5 Ways to Squash Sibling Squabbles

Tired of the constant bickering and fighting amongst your children? Mighty Mommy has 5 ways to squash those sibling squabbles.

Cheryl Butler
5-minute read
Episode #209

If you have more than one child, I bet hardly a day goes by when you’re not refereeing some type of argument, such as “Mom, he just pushed me and made me ruin my Lego tower!” or “She wore my favorite sweater to school without asking! Aren’t you going to punish her?” and so on. 

Do these irritating exchanges sound familiar?

You are certainly not alone. In our household of 8 kids, it wouldn’t be the norm if one of them weren’t antagonizing another. Here are 5 tips to help squash sibling squabbles and create a lot more peace around your home.


Tip #1: Set “Peaceful” Standards in Advance

5 Ways to Squash Sibling Squabbles

If you constantly fall victim to sibling fights and nagging without any positive outcome, fear not—there is still time to change.   Sit your older kids down when everyone is calm and in a positive frame of mind, and go over the standards of getting along that you expect in your home. Include topics like name calling, pushing or hitting, tattling, stealing toys, and anything else you want addressed.  Be specific in letting them know that you cannot referee every problem that arises, so they will have to learn to figure things out amongst themselves or face penalties (such as losing toys or privileges, doing more chores, etc.).  

For kids under age 4, keep it simple and clear. “You and Katie have to share your toys. If either of you grabs a toy without asking, Mommy will have to take the toy away from both of you until you can take turns nicely.”   I tried this tactic on and off for a couple of years without great success—however, the moment I changed how I reacted when there was a squabble, I got their full attention. What did I do differently? I simply stayed calm and didn’t raise my voice or get flustered and followed through on any punishments. Consistency of your emotional reaction and handling of these situations is key.

Tip #2: Teach Your Children How to Avoid Negative Situations

Many times prevention is the best way to avoid unnecessary fighting. Talk to your kids about certain behaviors that lead to sibling bickering. For instance, let’s say you have a child who is a predictable hothead when it comes to having to do chores or perhaps he or she doesn’t do as well in school as her sibling. Pull your  other child aside and talk about it. 

You could say, “What does Kayla do when she starts to get in that angry mood?” Your other child might say, “Her voice gets louder and she immediately starts pointing at me.” You can then say, “When you see those warning signs, just walk away—nothing good is going to come of staying there and trying to ‘win’ the fight.”   This not only teaches your child to avoid a bicker-fest, but it also teaches her that walking away while maintaining a calm demeanor is empowering. You’ll also need to pull your hothead child aside and address his or her temper. Without getting angry or emotional yourself, remind your child about the peaceful standards your family is going to abide by mentioned in Tip # 1. Then, ask your perturbed child if something is eating at him or her to make him react so angrily. There is usually an underlying cause for that type of behavior that needs to be resolved or it may even just be a bad behavioral habit and now you’ll have to work consistently to break him of it.


All content here is for informational purposes only. This content does not replace the professional judgment of your own mental health provider. Please consult a licensed mental health professional for all individual questions and issues.

About the Author

Cheryl Butler Project Parenthood

Cheryl L. Butler was the host of the Mighty Mommy podcast for nine years from 2012 to 2021. She is the mother of eight children. Her experiences with infertility, adoption, seven pregnancies, and raising children with developmental delays have helped her become a resource on the joys and challenges of parenting. You can reach her by email.