Squash Sibling Rivalry By Establishing Positive Core Beliefs In Your Kids

Core beliefs in kids are directly responsible for the formation of sibling bonds

The secret is to squash it repeatedly by establishing positive core beliefs about each sibling.

These are examples of core beliefs in kids, sibling rivalry, family, single parents, parenting, kidswhat I have done. This is the second post on brothers and sisters.  In case you missed the first one, you can find it here.

 It’s Not About YOU! 

Have you ever heard the term, “We had a bonding moment?”  Any envy, resentment or sense of ‘one upping’ is shattered during these ‘bonding moments.’  It’s these ‘bonding moments’ that will aid in establishing solid core beliefs in kids. I create as many as I can for my kids. It’s not about me…it’s about them.

While some competition among family members is actually healthy, recognizing the type that causes deep resentment later on in life has always been my focus.

Establishing Core Beliefs in Kids

“There’s ALWAYS room for more lovies.”  I say this and demonstrate it, every single day. 

Loyalty is a practiced, learned behavior and one of the best types of core beliefs in kids to nurture. Never never never…badmouth your sibling in front of others. Hashing it out with friends sometimes antagonizes sibling rivalry, and it constitutes negative attitudes.

Adopted, ‘step,’ ‘half,’ or ‘foster,’…a sibling is a sibling!  My kids all know that their brother has a different father. However, the word ‘half brother’ or ‘half sister’ does not exist.  Therefore, their bond is not ‘half’ brother or sister based.  It is sibling based.

Very Young

  • When I went to the hospital to have each of my kids, the older one(s) were given a present from the baby…not from me.

  • The first time I saw my older kids after having the baby, I let them core beliefs in kids, sibling rivalry, family, parenting, kids, stresshold the baby immediately with the intent of establishing an immediate bond.

  • I didn’t brag about one child’s new milestone.  I bragged about the older sibling(s) helping the baby reach that milestone.

  •   Aside from each having separate time with me, they also each have their own ‘brother and sister’ time. This is their bonding time.

  • Smile!  Always smile at each other and to others.

  • “Your brother/sister is sick.  Will you think of something nice to say or do that will cheer them up?” 

Toddler to Adolescent

  • Yelling:  This one is AWESOME!  When they yell, they go for a period of time whispering, smiling every time they speak, and having no negative body language.  If they slip up, I have an alternative consequence.  I have used push ups, sit ups, and jumping jacks, but I realize that some may not agree with this.  It works well with my kids and  instills confidence and fitness simultaneously.

  • Validate feelings:  It’s okay to be mad.  It is NOT okay to yell…hit…name call.  Use appropriate words in a calm tone like this.  “You’re making me mad.”  “I don’t like it when you…”

  • Walk away and forgive, especially when there isn’t an adult around to help.

  • Arguments:   I tell them to sit down facing each other, hands to themselves.  They have to look each other in the eyes for 3 -5 minutes without looking away or talking.  Half the time they end up laughing at each other and forget about whatever made them argue.

  • Sometimes I have them sit down and hug each other and stay like that for several minutes.

  • Brewing conflict:  I remind them that if they argue, they’ll all have consequences. It entices them to work it out on their own.  “You know if Mom hears you there’s gonna be trouble.”  “You need to find something quiet to do before Mom sees you.”  Then, “Good job.  Now there’s no consequences from Mom.”  “Good decision, thank you.”  “Thank you for not being bratty anymore.”

  • Continuous bickering:  I separate them.  After cooling off, there are hugs, apologies and specific examples of HOW to get along with what they’re doing.  They come up with a plan to do the activity without fighting.

  • Name calling: Consequence &  Group talk:  “How did you feel when your brother said that?”  Lead them to realize that what they said truly hurt their sibling.  They really absorb the hurt when they hear their sibling’s voice and see the hurt on their face.  This is the key.


  • Antagonism:  I consider this anything negative done behind my back that they KNOW is inappropriate.  First the consequence.  Then the demonstration.

    I ask them to demonstrate the antagonistic act, or phrase…several times…clearly and loudly.  I have them do it in front of the mirror.

    Then I ask them, “Do you think that behavior is sweet?  Do you think someone who doesn’t know you is going to think it’s sweet?  You need to find ways of expressing your point in a sweet manner,” (for my son I replaced ‘sweet’ with ‘cool’).

  • Lying:  The key isn’t to simply punish them for lying, but to encourage them to take responsibility. 

    Example scenario – An entire pack of oreos has magically disappeared.  None of them know anything about it.  The consequence is given to ALL of them and not lifted until one (or all) of them takes responsibility. 

    I remind them that whomever is responsible is making the other two suffer.  Instead of encouraging them to ‘rat’ each other out, it encourages them to take responsibility for their actions.

     Example 2:   If they do tell on their sibling, I administer the consequence to that specific sibling until they stop lying and take responsibility. They always apologize to the other siblings for lying also. 

  • I encourage the older sibling  to explain to the younger ones how to clean their room instead of making the older one do it for them.  It reversed sibling rivalry and pretty soon, I had to stop the older ones from WANTING to do it for them.

  • Another powerful tool is to establish individual chores and group chores.  This instills teamwork and makes it fun…sometimes!

  • When one sibling achieves something, encourage the other ones to congratulate.  If they display envy, I crush it immediately. 

    I lead by saying things like, “They’re just like you.  They learned that from you.”  This is the very beginning of sibling rivalry.  Watch for it, and redirect how they see the situation.

  • If one sibling has friends over, the other sibling(s) are not allowed to bug them.

  • Every single night:  hugs before bed.

  • ALWAYS say ‘bye’ or ‘have a good day,’ to each other when getting out of the car, going to a friend’s house or going to school.  SIBLINGS always need to acknowledge each other.

  • Now that they’re older:  I ask my son (he doesn’t live at home anymore)  every so often to make sure he comes by and spends some time with his sisters.  I encourage the girls to call him and ask him how college is.  Sometimes, when my 11 year old has a bad day, I encourage her to call her brother.

  • I encourage the girls to invite their brother to school plays, core beliefs in kids, sibling rivalry, stress, family, parenting, kidsconcerts etc.  I don’t invite, I encourage the interaction to be between them. 

    Besides, I discovered that if I expect my son to come along, he resists.  Every time his sisters ask, he never turns them down.

  • PRAISE them when they keep a level head, set a good example…etc.

These examples are a means of SHARING what has personally worked for a single mom.

Find what works for your kids and stick to it. My kids are 19, 11 & 7 and they are closer than most siblings I have ever come across.

It is possible to squash sibling rivalry by establishing positive core beliefs in kids, thus forming unbreakable bonds between siblings.  Encourage that bond and try to remember, it’s about THEM, not about YOU.  Truly, this is the BEST gift you can give your children. 

Did you find this helpful?  Please take a moment and leave a comment.  Also, please share this on your favorite social media sites and help Diversimom grow.

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For more information on sibling rivalry this site has a series of articles on the subject. 


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