Real Advice For Real Life

Parenting Expert Advice from Author and America’s Nanny,

Michelle LaRowe

Squashing Sibling Squabbles
siblings brother and sister Siblings fight.

They argue, they antagonize and in some homes, they even engage in their own creative forms of torture, or so it seems to an outsider looking in.

You see, every parent, whether it’s spoken or not, has a threshold where roughhousing, wrestling or messing around becomes more than displays of innocent affection.

But in families where multiple siblings exist, the line that differentiates genuine expressions of brotherly or sisterly love from violence can be quite subjective and often inconsistent.

For this reason, it can be hard for parents to nip sibling squabbling in the bud.Let’s face it. At times, boys will wrestle, push and engage in otherwise aggressive behavior. They’re hardwired to do so. And girls will pull hair and argue. It’s in their nature.

But the secret to balancing out allowing kids to be kids and keeping everyone safe and free from sibling bullying is found in creating clear boundaries for what is and what is not acceptable in your home.

If you’re dealing with constant sibling squabbling, put these tips to the test.

  • Set in stone your rules for physical contact. The easiest way to eliminate physical aggression is to have a no tolerance policy. But if you have a house full of boys, that rule may be hard to enforce. Instead, give clear guidelines on what you consider acceptable or unacceptable. Some parents allow wrestling, but do not allow hitting, punching or slapping.


  • If your kids have a tendency to be overly physical, sign then up for a sport that can help them to channel their energy. Martial Arts teach kids how to control their bodies and their aggression while teaching athletic skills, good sportsmanship and discipline.


  • Don’t take sides. If your siblings are arguing or fighting, discipline all parties involved. It’s very rare to see a fight or argument from the get go and it can be hard to assign fault when you didn’t see the entire fallout and taking sides will only prolong and intensify the disagreement.


  • Teach your kids to argue. The ability to appropriately handle disagreements is a learned skill. Set the ground rules for arguments. Teach your kids to take turns voicing their issues, to truly listen to the other party and to never resort to name calling or physical contact during an argument.


  • Eliminate tattling. Many siblings’ squabbles are rooted in tattling. Make it clear that you don’t want to hear any tattling unless someone is going to get hurt.


  • Teach your kids to work things out on their own. Encourage siblings to engage in problem solving. Let them try to work out problems before your jump in.


  • Be consistent. Whatever rules that you establish to regulate sibling squabbling, be sure all adults in the home consistently enforce them. A rule that is not consistently enforced will be ineffective.


  • Remember fair does not always mean equal. Often times sibling squabbling is a result of one child feeling like they’ve been cheated. Instill the concept that fair isn’t always equal into your kids. Teach them that what’s important is that everyone needs are getting met and that can mean that each kids’ needs may get met differently.


  • Take time for each child. When each child in a family feels like they are special to their parents, sibling rivalry decreases. Take a few minutes each day to spend one on one time with each child of your children.

More Parenting Advice:

7 Tips to Positive, Effective Child Discipline

Dealing With A Strong Willed Child– Real Advice for Real Life from the American Nanny


Michelle La Rowe

Michelle La Rowe

About America's Nanny:

Michelle is an active member of the nanny community. She is the founder and president of Boston Area Nannies, Inc., a local non-profit educational organization and has served on the International Nanny Association Board of Directors.

She is called on by the media as a nanny and parenting expert and has been affectionately dubbed America's Nanny. Michelle has appeared on television and has been featured in print.

Podcast of Interview with
America's Nanny

Books by Michelle LaRowe

A Mom's Ultimate Book of Lists: 100+ Lists to Save You Time, Money and Sanity - Grocery lists. Checklists. To-do lists. Lots of people love--and live by--lists. And parents are no exception. Today's families are busier than ever, and moms don't have the time or energy to search and scramble for the parenting information they are desperately seeking. This handy, practical reference guide will save time, money, and sanity for today's busy women.

Working Mom's 411 is your one-stop resource guide for navigating through the often choppy waters of managing kids, career and home.

Nanny to the Rescue - America's nanny offers a large dose of healthy parenting advice with secrets for raising happy, secure, and well-balanced babies and toddlers.

Nanny To the Rescue Again - Faced with multiple choices regarding school, friends, and activities coupled with the ever-widening influence of the outside world, parents of 6-12-year-olds need help. America's nanny is back to offer a large dose of healthy parenting advice with secrets for raising happy, secure, and well-balanced children.
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Michelle La Rowe La RoweAmerican NannyReal Advice For Real LifeParenting Expert Advice from Author and America's Nanny, Michelle LaRoweSquashing Sibling Squabbles Siblings fight.They argue, they antagonize and in some homes, they even engage in their own creative forms of torture, or so it seems to an outsider looking in.You see, every parent, whether it's spoken or...Parenting Advice| Family Fun Activities for Kids