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Parents want their children to love each other, and they find it hard to see their children quarrel. Yet sibling rivalry can be positive - sibling relationships provide opportunities for children to stand up for themselves, compromise and get along with others.
Sibling rivalry is a normal part of life in families with more than one child. Brothers and sisters do fight, but parents don't have to stay and listen to them! Kids should be allowed to work out their problems on their own, and parents should intervene only if the battles get physically or verbally abusive.
Families can establish rules for getting along with others, such as no name calling, hitting or teasing. Parents can set an example through their own behavior but should remember that it's normal for siblings to fight.
The way parents respond when their kids argue influences the way the kids will behave toward each other. If Mom or Dad comes running whenever the children get into conflict, they learn that fighting gets their parents' attention, so they will fight more. If the parents don't intervene, the kids have to learn to talk to each other and solve their problems.
Parent involvement usually complicates disputes. If the children are fighting over a toy, the problem is the toy. But if Dad intervenes, each child wants him on his or her side. The parent becomes another source of contention. Here are some things to remember when the kids argue:
As always, children should be praised when they share, cooperate or play nicely together. Given the opportunity, children learn to get along with their siblings and are able to develop close relationships as they grow up.
Children's Hospital of Pittsburgh of UPMC offers Positive Parenting classes and other parenting workshops. For more information, call the Community Education Department at 412-692-7105.
Current classes are listed on this Web site.
Children's Hospital's main campus is located in the Lawrenceville neighborhood. Our main hospital address is:
UPMC Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh
One Children’s Hospital Way
4401 Penn Ave.
Pittsburgh, PA 15224
In addition to the main hospital, Children's has many convenient locations in other neighborhoods throughout the greater Pittsburgh region.
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Interested in giving to Children's Hospital? Visit Children's Hospital of Pittsburgh Foundation's website to make a donation online.