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6 Reasons Sibling Rivalry is Good for Kids (No, Really)

Sibling rivalry is by far my biggest challenge as a mom.

When I’m not playing referee without the nifty whistle, I’m wondering why I ever thought having kids five years apart would mitigate rivalry. I thought my eldest would act as mentor who’d teach and protect. In turn, my youngest would admire and respect his older brother. While I hope some of that stuff is happening deep within their power struggle, the fact is, all siblings argue. They’ll fight over big stuff, small stuff, and mostly really stupid stuff.

It recently dawned on me that fighting is actually fun for my kids, like super fun. Could it be that one day their super-fantastic brotherhood will blossom as a result of all this fighting? Lawd, I hope so.

While sibling rivalry is responsible for parents teetering on the edge of insanity, it’s important keep it in perspective. Sibling squabbles are actually good for kids, and a necessary part of child development.

Check out these 6 reasons why sibling rivalry is good for kids after the jump!


  • Problem solving 1 of 6
    Problem solving
    Your kids are finding ways to solve their problems one screaming match at a time. Child and adolesent therapist, Signe Whitson suggests that siblings gain invaluable skills as they nagivate through daily conflict. If it's one thing parents know for sure, it's that their kids are well-practiced in conflict!
    Image credit: Shutterstock
  • Enhanced social skills 2 of 6
    Enhanced social skills
    Dr. Claire Hughes, as part of the University of Cambridge's Centre for Family Research study on sibling behavior said, "...parents might take some sort of comfort, when their children are fighting, in the discovery that they are learning valuable social skills and intelligence which they will take outside the home, and apply to other children." For more from Dr. Hughes, click here.
    Image credit: Shutterstock
  • Improved listening skills 3 of 6
    Improved listening skills
    Child and adolesent therapist, Signe Whitson suggests the intimate conversations between siblings help develop empathy and an understanding of another person's perspective. Those super-secret bedtime convos are hard at work!
    Image credit: Shutterstock
  • Self control 4 of 6
    Self control
    A five-year research project conducted by the University of Cambridge's Centre for Family Research found, "The more the children upset each other, the more they learn about regulating their emotions and how they can affect the emotions of others," said Dr. Claire Hughes.
    Image credit: Shutterstock
  • Increased support 5 of 6
    Increased support
    Laurie Kramer of the University of Illinois found that siblings' shared experiences build support. Even if your kids love/hate/love each other on a whim, they always know their sibling is there for them.
    Image credit: Shutterstock
  • Increased maturity 6 of 6
    Increased maturity
    According to The Guardian, "Parents need have no concern even if the arguments get worse as the children get older as long as they also increase their verbal sophistication and, once all vitriol is spent and tears spilt, learn to resolve their differences without one child submitting to the other."
    Image credit: Shutterstock

Despite the tension between my kids, every now and again I witness a glimmer of true brotherhood. Sometimes when they think no one is looking, they show each other real tenderness and genuine compassion. In those moments I think for half a second that I’m doing something right, and then one of them pokes the other in the eye quite on purpose and I snap back to reality.

Do your kids argue all the time?

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