How to Handle Teen Siblings Who Hate Each Other


Being a teenager with a teenage sibling has some benefits, but it also comes with a lot of downfalls. Your kids might love the fact that they can borrow things from one another, they can talk about how unfair you and dad are with someone who understands firsthand and they always have someone to hang out with when they’re on vacation. However, being teenage siblings also means there may be a lot of jealousy, a lot of fighting and a lot of views on how unfair it is to be the other child. Sibling rivalry between your teens might be more prominent than it was when your kids were younger, and you should expect that they will not always get along splendidly.

  • Stop comparing your teens, advises Anthony E. Wolf, Ph.D., a Massachusetts-based child psychologist. For example, telling one of your teens you don’t understand why he can’t be more like his sister, who gets good grades and stays out of trouble, will only make him angrier with his sister. Their rivalry and strained relationship is only made worse when you compare what you view as one’s shortcomings to the other's excellence.

  • Have a family meeting, advises the Ask Dr. Sears website. When your kids seem to hate one another, get the family together and talk about it. Your teens will welcome the chance to complain about what makes them so angry about one another, and it gives you an idea of how to fix their anger and turn it into a better relationship. For example, if your teenage daughter envies her brother because he enjoys a later curfew and more freedom, you will know what her issue is and you can fix it. Say he is 17 and she is only 14. He gets more freedom than she does because of the age difference, not because you love him more. To solve this problem, you can use your family meeting as a time to compromise, such as coming up with solutions to the issues your child feels are important, such as curfew in this case. If your daughter feels that she is more mature than her older brother, you can compromise with her by allowing her to stay out a half hour later on weekends to help her feel that she is being treated more fairly and to help ease her feelings of sibling rivalry. Additionally, you can use this time to assure her that when her brother's behavior is inappropriate, his curfew will be much earlier. By sticking to your promises and using family time to come up with compromise, you can eliminate some feelings of resentment between siblings.

  • Understand that your teens are the closest people they have to one another, and that means they are comfortable around each other, advises WebMD. When your kids are this comfortable with one another, they realize that their sibling has to love them forever and it might make their relationship seem a lot more strained than it actually is. When your teen has a bad day and takes it out on her teenage brother, it might be because she knows that he won’t really get mad at her or that he has to forgive her eventually. You don’t have to put up with them treating one another poorly, but understanding where it comes from will help you deal.

  • Try disciplining your teens when they don’t get along. A little fighting is fine, but when their behavior is out of control, try taking away their privileges, such as Internet usage and driving. This might motivate them to become a little nicer toward one another.

  • Spend time with your kids individually. For example, if your teenage son plays football and your daughter is on the debate team, make time to support them both in person. Go cheer him on during Friday night games and be there on Saturday mornings when she takes on the debate team from other schools to show her knowledge and ability with words. Additionally, you should spend time with them outside of their school activities. Try planning a parent/child night with each of your teenagers every few weeks in which each of your teens gets to spend a couple of hours alone with you doing something he considers fun. It’s a good bonding experience and it’s great for his self-esteem.

  • Treat your teens like individuals rather than equally, advises the Ask Dr. Sears website. For example, if one of your daughters is asked to go to the senior prom even though she is not yet a senior and the other isn’t, don’t require that they must both go or neither can go. Your teens are not the same and you cannot always treat them equally. Telling one she cannot go because the other is not attending is only fair to one. Let your daughter go to the prom even though her sister isn’t going. You have to employ individuality in other aspects of life as well. For example, if one of your teens wears tennis shoes on a daily basis and needs a new pair because hers are destroyed, you do not have to buy your other teen a new pair. She may view it as unfair that her sister gets new shoes and she didn’t, but explaining to her that her sister wore her shoes out while hers still look brand-new is all you are required to do.

Tips & Warnings

  • You are not required to make sure your teens get exactly equal time from you to eliminate sibling rivalry; you simply have to spend time with them each individually, cheering them on and bonding with them; the source of their rivalry may be that they perceive your love for one is more powerful than your love for the other.


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