How To Discipline Siblings

For parents of multiple children, it can often be difficult to discipline siblings and referee any potential rivalry. After all, even the best and most affectionate sibling relationships are prone to moments of friction and dispute from time-to-time.  

With this in mind, we’ve compiled a list of ten of the most effective methods of disciplining siblings, ranging from positivity and humor to boundary-setting and being authoritative. We’ll also look to answer some of the frequently asked questions. 

Use Your Authority

The first method on our list is to be authoritative. Whether you’re a parent, a grandparent, or another senior relative, it’s important to step in and use your position of authority to get matters under control. 

Admittedly, there’s some value to letting siblings handle conflict and take responsibility for their own actions, but if an argument becomes heated or there’s the potential for physical aggression, it’s a good idea to stamp your authority and intervene immediately. 

While they may not initially take too kindly to your intervention, they’ll learn to respect your authority and will likely think twice before exhibiting the same problematic behavior again. 

Remain Positive 

One of the best ways of preventing sibling unrest is to promote a firm but positive environment.

For example, rivalry between siblings often occurs when an older child becomes jealous of having to share their parent’s attention with someone else, as well as many of their toys, and often their room. 

To offset some of these problematic feelings, it’s beneficial to keep them in line and remind them how important they are to the family.

An effective method of doing this is to organize plenty of fun one-on-one outings for your older child. This will help them to feel appreciated and also improve their outlook on having a younger sibling. 

Listen To All Sides Of A Story 

If you have a number of children, there may be a time where you have to discipline more than one at a time.

In these situations, there’s invariably two sides to the story, so it’s important to let each sibling feel like their side of the story is being listened to before coming to any kind of conclusion. 

Adopting this approach will encourage your children to deal with conflict and trouble in a mature and sensible manner.

Furthermore, teaching siblings this kind of discipline at an early age will help them as they grow older and have to manage disagreements and resolve differences in their future relationships. 

Establish Boundaries

In order to develop a strong level of discipline in your home, it’s a good idea to provide clear limits about how you expect your children to behave towards each other, as well as to other people.  

Using verbal reminders such as “we’ve talked about this” or “don’t even think about it” allow you to address the problem before it escalates out of control.

The siblings will recognize from the verbal reminder that they’ve reached the designated limit of a particular boundary, and as a result, must curb their behavior.  

Promote A Team Spirit 

This method is vital – especially if you have a large family with lots of children. Learning to work as a team and appreciate that everyone in a group has equal individual rights is a good way to promote discipline in siblings from an early age. 

They quickly learn that all their actions can have an impact on others, and that shouldering some responsibility to reflect the “team” in a positive light is very important.

Developing this group sensitivity is an essential tool for life and will help siblings as they grow older and look to form new relationships. 

Be A Positive Role Model 

Never underestimate how much siblings watch and learn from the behavior of their parents. Even at a super young age, children will pick up on a number of cues in terms of how to behave correctly, settle conflict, and how to manage problems. 

Therefore, if you’re able to be a positive role model in your own actions, there’s every chance that siblings will learn and adopt similar behaviors as they grow older and have to address problems themselves. 

Use Humor

As mentioned previously, being authoritative and establishing clear boundaries is an effective way to instil discipline. However, there are times when using humor and keeping things a little more light-hearted may do the trick.

For example, if siblings have been fighting each other, using humor to deal with the situation can catch them unawares and make them realize just how bad and disruptive their actions have been. 

Get To The Root Of The Problem

Shift the focus away from other siblings and other people, and ask what it is that they’re upset or angry about. For example, if the problem is that one sibling always gets to choose what TV show to watch, encourage them to express this rather than kicking up a fuss. 

A healthy discussion involves talking about the problem and then working towards the potential solution, rather than pointing the finger of blame at others and getting agitated. 

Make Respect Compulsory 

When it comes to discipline, respect should be a non-negotiable rule. In other words, any type of name-calling or acts of physical aggression are completely unacceptable.

Moreover, it’s important to encourage siblings to listen to all sides of a story and give others the respect that they’d like for themselves. 

Ask Them For Solutions

If one or a number of your children have behaved badly, it can be a helpful practice to get them to come up with some potential solutions.

This way, you can encourage them to put themselves in another person’s position and ask them if they’re aware of how their actions have an impact on others. 

Frequently Asked Questions

Three Ways To Help Children Behave Better (Without Punishment)

How Do I Control My Anger With Siblings?

There are times when harmless bickering can turn a little nasty, so it’s important to learn how to control your anger when trying to discipline siblings.

Some of the most effective methods include remembering why you love them, letting them talk, and knowing when to let things go. 

How Do You Deal With Greedy Siblings?

Trying to discipline a greedy sibling can be a difficult challenge since it’s a problematic behavior that needs to be sorted before it escalates into something worse.

One of the best ways to manage a greedy sibling is to be understanding and let them speak their peace (even if you disagree).

Also, it’s a good idea to develop empathy for them and try to understand the key motives behind their behavior. 

What Defines A “Toxic” Sibling? 

A toxic sibling is one that never believes they’re in the wrong. For example, they’ll constantly blame others for their mistakes and lack the self awareness to take any kind of responsibility for their own actions.

This type of sibling is hugely problematic and requires strict discipline.