Refereeing Sibling Fights – Pitfalls and Alternatives
All siblings argue, at least occasionally, and as a parent it can
sometimes feel that you’re constantly called upon to smooth over
disputes and re-establish a fair playing-field. However, it quickly
becomes clear that trying to referee puts you in an impossible position
as you can never get it right for both children, sibling disputes are
It’s normal for children to find it difficult to allow another child to
play with their toys or give something that they are enjoying playing
with to another child. However, we generally want our children to be
kind and popular and the ability to share is a very important part of
For young children, a sibling’s birthday can be a challenging time.
While they may welcome the excitement of extra treats and parties, they
are also very likely to feel quite envious of the increased attention
bestowed on the birthday child.
Children under 5 will often show
this jealousy in quite open and obvious ways, such as having tantrums,
ripping open or breaking sibling’s presents. Slightly older children
are more likely to feel torn between understanding that such behaviour
is unreasonable and yet still feeling quite deeply resentful of their
brother or sister. Even worse, it starts to become clear that despite
their feelings, they are actually expected to enjoy the day and be happy
for their sibling.