Building Healthy Sibling Relationships

My Brother and I

I remember when my brother was born, I was four, and the proudest big sister there was to him and all those who knew me. I had made a promise to myself that I would teach him everything I knew and strive to protect him from any harm. As he grew older, he followed me everywhere and depended on me to teach him and show him everything. He soon became an annoyance by taking all my toys, cried when I did not want to share with him, and always told on me when he thought I was being mean to him. Our sibling relationship started off strong but soon began to see more conflicts as we grew older. How did my parents handle building our relationship without causing more harm? It was not easy, but I can say that today, my brother and I are closer than ever and have a mutual level of respect for one another through our parents’ teachings. 

Sibling Conflict

Every parent of multiple children strives to support strengthening sibling relationships. Sibling conflicts can be an exhausting occurrence for parents to navigate. But with a little patience and understanding, children will gain skills in managing their emotions and problem solve effectively together. In order to promote positive sibling interactions, parents need to teach children how to show compassion and empathy for their siblings. By doing this, it will provide their children with necessary social-emotional skills to manage conflicts as they grow older into adulthood. Some benefits of building strong sibling bonds result in individuals with excellent problem solving skills who are confident and caring as they develop important relationships outside of the family. 

Ways to Help Siblings Build Strong Relationships

  • Parents should try to refrain from comparing or showing favoritism towards children. 
  • Teach your children and model how to show mutual respect for one another.  
  • Do not referee disagreements! Allow them to problem solve between themselves with little input.
  • Allow siblings to have time away from each other and  try to spend individual time with each child.  
  • Find common activities siblings can do together such as chores, cooking, etc.
  • Teach your children the importance of good listening skills. 
  • Play with your children to model positive interactions and show them how to share appropriately. 
  • Make a conscious effort to build fun family traditions.


Crystal Smith, Resource Family Coordinator, JFS Adoption & Foster Care

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