Dear Savvy Auntie,

Whenever I go out with my nieces and nephews, they are always fighting! Help! What can I do? How can I deal with their sibling rivalries? Time-outs do not seem to be helping!

Dealing with Sibling Rivalry

Dear Dealing with Sibling Rivalry,

There is something about siblings fighting that is like fingernails on a chalkboard to adults, particularly family members. I often wonder if that is because it reminds us of our own sibling rivalries or because we hold idealized notions of brotherly/sisterly harmonious relationships.

How to handle it is to warn them ahead of time and if they persist tell them next time I will take you out one at a time. Do check your behavior…do you favor one over the other with attention, with communication, or with special treats? Since it is only natural that parents favor the child that is most like them in positive ways as well as the opposite, you could speak to the parents and see if this can be better understood and managed. I have a unique and very helpful chapter in my book “The Sense Connection” that is very useful on sibling favoritism. (Please see my website below)

If it is particularly problematic in the car or restaurant you could institute games such as “hangman”, tic-tac-toe, geography, or I spy. These can be distracting, educational, and fun.

Be sure to compliment them if they are well-behaved!

Best of Luck,

Natalie Robinson Garfield


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