How Much Sibling Fighting Is Normal?

Updated on June 14, 2012
L.M. asks from Conneaut, OH
10 answers

my kids are 18 mo apart boy and girl. they have been fighting ALOT. everyone says they should be such great frieinds, but i'm just not seeing it. younger one is a terror, the opitomy of a whiney, bratty competative,stinker. oldest is usually laid back but i think he is getting sick of it.

how do i teach them to be nice. I've always done the use your words thing, the take turns, that whole bit, it's just not workign anymore,so i've been separating them but it's getting so bad they can't hardly be in the same room for more than 10 mins.

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So What Happened?

edited: i'm wondering if i just don't have any tolerance for the tattling and whining and i need to just go in another room and leave them to it and they will eventually worki it out or bloody each other, or I maybe i should continue to separate them.

I like the idea of a big hard project any ideas on that one? paint my back deck?

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answers from Colorado Springs on

I've read posts here by mamas who say that when their children squabble, they are required to hold hands for thirty minutes. :^)

2 moms found this helpful

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answers from Seattle on

The 'be good friends' thing is a HOPE not a given.

My closest sister and I fought like cats and dogs until I moved out. We loathed each other. We're friends as adults, but that's just dumb luck. A lot of adults continue to despise each other. My best friend in my family was / is 6 years younger than me.

In other families, you'll see the same or the opposite (close in age get along, distant don't).

It REALLY comes down to personality.

Parents can make it worse (favoring or not disciplining or unreasonable expectations), but can rarely make it better

2 moms found this helpful


answers from San Francisco on

Siblings are NOT automatically great friends.
Most siblings fight to some extent, some a LOT.
Many are close as adults, and many are not.
Your kids are little people, they have their own personalities. Of course you should always encourage sharing, compassion, cooperation and friendship but ultimately it will be who they are deep down inside that determines whether or not they end up good friends, or simply two people who happen to be related.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Chicago on

Have them work on a long and difficult project together. They will learn how to work together without fighting so much.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Portland on

I recommend the book, Siblings Without Rivalry by Faber and Mazlisch.

The brother who is 2 1/2 years younger then I fought all the time. I also had brothers 6 and 9 years younger and we got along. Whether or not siblings fight has so much to do with variables such as personality differences. I've always thought it was normal to have some fighting but I suggest that what you're describing is not so normal.

Your description of the youngest would make it difficult for anyone to get a long with him. Perhaps you need to find a way to deal with him so that he can become more likeable.

Does he have consequences when he's whiney, bratty? If not I suggest that you set up consequences for both kids that includes those traits you want to get rid of.

Are you sure the oldest isn't pushing the youngest's buttons? It would be normal for him to be doing so. Be on the look out for that and give him consequences too.

after your SWH YOu should not have a tolerance for tattling and whiney. There should be consequences when either one does that. In a way you have the right idea; to leave the room. Tell them ahead of time that you will not listen when they are doing those things and then never listen to them. Let them work it out.

One reason they may be doing this is to get your attention. If they don't succeed they may cool it somewhat. Do you give each one individual attention every day in small amounts and every week in a larger way?

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Dallas on

I'm sorry but I'm laughing right now... I have 3 kids, doesn't matter how close in age or not they are, they will fight. I have the hardest time with my boys. My oldest 17 year old girl, then 15 year old boy and 5.5 year old boy. Both of my boys at some point were my baby the youngest, and the 15 year old as much as he does love his brother will pick on him. I get after him more, he's older... my younger one just is a whiner too, and it's really been bothering me more now than it used too. Now when it was just the 2 older ones, they picked on each other, I think boys love to pick, don't get me wrong my daughter would instigate it sometimes, but mainly my son. As the two older ones have gotten older, less they fight with each other. Now, both my daughter and older son will pick on the young one, dues I guess, as a mother, it drives me crazy. My boys will pick on each other the most, and my older son loves to irritate my young one, but there is times when the young one does start it. My older son will say, he's toughin him up or he's not doing anything (I hear that the most) while he's humming or tapping his fingers and it's annoying me too, but I just ignore it while my youngest starts crying. Then it like I'm giving into the young one and yelling at the older one. It's just an ugly cycle. I try to be fair, tell each of them to quit it, stop whining stop making the noises, or whatever.

I do remember fighting with my sisters when I was younger and we all love each other now, and hardly fight at all, well, not like that. We still get mad at each other, jealous sometimes but in the end LOVE each other...

This is were you learn patience and cursing your children "I can't wait for you to have kids of your own..." LOL


answers from Cleveland on

You didn't say how old they are? You say the youngest is a "terror" and "whiney" and "bratty" and a "stinker." What is he/she doing that causes you to label as such? Is he/she given consequences for those negative behaviors? I have had a daycare for over 20 years and when I've seen these type of situations it is usually the younger one acting up and parents are allowing it to happen without consequence. Sibling fighting to an extent is normal but if one or both are 'terrors' there's a problem. When they are young is the time to teach them to resolve conflicts in a respectful, non-violent way.


answers from Jacksonville on

How old are they? Mine are 3 years apart and are practically best friends. Always have been. Yes, they bicker and argue. It is how kids learn negotiation skills in a safe environment/relationship. The trick is to learn how to direct their learning into appropriate directions. If you have one who is physically much bigger/stronger, you don't want them to work it out themselves if that means that the bigger one learns to physically beat up or intimidate the smaller one into giving in. That is NOT what you want them to learn. So you have to help them figure out the proper skills.

As they get older and older, you have to intervene less and less. And when you do intervene, it is usually much simpler. Nowadays, when my two start to argue/bicker... I tend to tell them to knock it off, because I don't want to hear it. Or I tell them they cannot speak to the other one at all. They don't like this for very long---because they actually do like each other a lot and enjoy each others company. :)

I have noticed that one's personality is much more sensitive and quick to apologize/forgive. The other is a bit more stubborn and justice minded. So I have to keep watch for that, so that things don't go too far in one direction. So that the one child isn't always the one apologizing, ya know?

A great technique is when one comes tattling, (or whatever they want to call it), they BOTH get in trouble (so long as someone wasn't in danger or something wasn't on the verge of getting broken due to what was going on). Another is to ask: Is someone crying or bleeding? Did something get broken? Then you have to work it out yourselves, or I will take _____ (whatever they are arguing about).
Good luck.
Sometimes separating them for an hour is a very GOOD thing. Don't feel bad about doing that.



answers from Honolulu on

ALL throughout childhood and even until adulthood (until say about 8 years ago), me and my sibling, NEVER got along, always fought and couldn't stand each other.
We are 2 very different personalities. Opposites.
We are only a couple of years apart.

Now, I was the more easy going one. My sibling was the more OVERBEARING and antagonistic one.
So, many times.... she was just a bully. And it makes the other more peaceful sibling... have a VERY VERY unpleasant life.
So... you NEED to, figure out, WHICH kid is being the instigator.
I was mostly defending myself and standing up for myself. My sibling was manipulative and would lie to get ME in trouble.
So, that is a very different dynamic... when one kid is being always manipulative and lying about the trouble they are making... and the parent does not know.

IF either of your kids, is a BULLY to the other sibling... then you need to nip it now.
It is highly UNfair... if the sibling not making trouble, is always being blamed.

There is regular sibling fighting. And then there is the kind... that is NOT normal nor nice nor should it go on, and it should not be, tolerated. At all.

And, just leaving 2 kids alone to deal with it on their own... will NOT make it go away, nor will it make the 2 kids learn how to be Diplomats or how to get along.

So, DISCERN this wisely.

Not all sibling fighting, is normal.



answers from Columbus on

I clicked on your question because I have the same situation -- my kids are 2.5 years apart, and it's a constant effort to upset each other or get each other in trouble. I don't think the age difference is the issue, because I've seen all combinations of age difference and friendship. I think it has a lot to do with how the family interacts as a whole. Over the years, I have been quick to reprimand and my husband and I both have quick tempers, and over the past few years, his job has gotten more demanding and stressful, which makes both of us stressed more often -- we have a very loving family, but we're all very emotionally demonstrative when we're happy and when we're upset, and the children have taken that and translated it into being quick to find offense in the other, quick to whine, quick to be upset. On the flip side, we're also demonstratively very affectionate as well, and the kids consider themselves best friends, even though there are days I wish we had two separate families (j/k, not really!). As a family, we're all working on creating a more calm environment, and I'm hoping that will translate into a friendlier relationship with each other.
I know that probably doesn't help, but I think I've come to the conclusion that, while the kids have their own personalities and there is an age difference, I think it has the most to do with the environment the parents create in the home.

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