How to stop sibling rivalry when they’re ages apart.

spikie asks: how do I get my 16-year-old daughter to be more loving to her 10-year-old brother?

Hi Spikie –


Of course sibling rivalry is as old as brains!  I fought with my litter-siblings, Cain fought with Abel, JR fought with Bobby… oh it just goes on and on!  I will say, though, that usually when siblings are of different genders, and especially when they’re more than a few years apart in age, the rivalry is usually finished by the time they’re your kids’ ages.  So my first thought is…  give them a few more months.  In truth, a 16-year-old girl has almost nothing in common with a 10-year-old boy, so they’re no threat to each other, and they should get along great.


But if that doesn’t work?  I’ll throw a few ideas out here, but really, the best thing for you to do is to get your daughter alone sometime and find out from her what she dislikes about him.  But a few possibilities could be:


–       She’s at an age of physical and emotional maturity.  Is he possibly bothering her (even spying on her or such) from his age of comparative immaturity?  Or might she be wanting to keep herself younger (very common at this age) by treating him as an equal and rival instead of accepting her maturity and moving on?


–        Does she have some serious resentment at him for something?  Of course, all siblings have a great reason for resenting their younger sibs, since those interlopers came and took half of their parents’ attention away from them!  But does she have other reasons?


–       And here’s my tougher thought: how does she see men and women treating each other in the home?  Is there a happy supportive relationship, or is there a single parent, or has she seen a lot of conflict and arguing and power-battles?  If the latter, she may just be behaving with her brother in the way she was brought up to expect men and women to treat each other.


None of these suggestions is “final.”  If any are true, these are all things that can be worked out over time.  If the problem isn’t anything horrendous, I would suggest that you just give her more opportunities to express her feelings (with you listening without judgment – though I know that’s hard!), and I imagine this phase will pass soon.


But of course if you uncover something more serious, I urge you to find a good therapist, to help them work through whatever that might be.


Thanks for asking!




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