Step-siblings don’t have to be the worst of enemies, but they often are. Regardless of whether they love or hate each other, step-siblings in the same household often share their parents’ affection unequally, leading to tension between them that manifests itself in many ways as they grow up and move into adulthood. This article describes step sibling rivalry, why it happens, and how you can handle it effectively as both a parent and child if you’re affected by this stressful family dynamic.
The most apparent reason siblings fight is that they have very different personalities. Your stepkids might be more confident or stubborn than your children. And, even if you are a parent who maintains a calm, even-keeled atmosphere in your home, you could still encounter problems with jealousy or competition if your new spouse has children from a previous marriage. When siblings compete for attention, it can lead to tension at home. This isn’t unique to blended families; any family can face sibling rivalry when there’s not enough time or resources for everyone.
Reasons why parents should get involved in step-sibling rivalry
When step-sibling rivalry becomes a problem, parents need to step in. After all, they were likely hoping to avoid many of these issues altogether. Many parents try a hands-off approach at first—this can backfire if you’re not paying attention or are unaware of how your kids interact with each other. Kids will often act out when they feel their boundaries have been crossed. For example, a stepchild might begin acting out by accidentally spilling food on his stepsister at dinner time. The more parents understand what is happening under their roof, the better equipped they will handle step sibling rivalries as they arise. These are three main reasons why parents should get involved in step-sibling rivalry;
- Try to help prevent physical fights
- To help avoid psychological damage
- To help avoid legal problems.
Try to help prevent physical fights
Physical fighting between step-siblings is one of the parents’ most significant concerns. If a child has getting bullied, they might lash out physically in retaliation. Parents need to know how to stop a fight before it gets out of hand.
To help prevent psychological damage;
Parents also need to be aware that step sibling rivalry can cause psychological damage to involved children. This can include feelings of isolation, anxiety, and depression. If your child one constantly being picked on by their step-siblings, parents need to intervene before these feelings get out of hand.
To help prevent legal problems;
Finally, parents should know how to stop a fight before it gets out of hand—even if they aren’t physically present at home when their kids are fighting. If an altercation occurs outside of your home, you could be held legally responsible for any injuries or damages caused by your child.
It is not easy to stay away from your siblings as kids or teenagers, even if you are always fighting. Here are five things you can try if your brother or sister won’t stop fighting;
- Tell them how their behavior makes you feel.
- Give them a chance to talk about their feelings without interruption, interruption, interruption!
- Show that you care about what they have to say by listening attentively.
- Let them know how important it is for everyone in your family to get along well together.
- Suggest ways that you could help each other solve problems more peacefully. For example, ask them if there is anything you could do differently when you both feel angry.
You’re not alone if you’ve felt a growing sense of tension in your relationship with your step-sibling. But there are ways to deal with it productively, so you can still enjoy each other’s company—especially when you live under one roof. Here are some tips for managing step sibling rivalry.
The first step toward easing step sibling rivalry is to clearly define what your relationship should be instead of focusing on what it isn’t. There will be less room for misunderstanding if you approach your new sibling relationship with clear expectations. For example, rather than asking, Why doesn’t my stepbrother call me? Try talking about managing your time with your parents.
Discuss family rules.
The best way to minimize step sibling rivalry is for your parents or guardians to have clear expectations about how you should interact with each other in their house. Make sure your siblings know what you like and what you don’t, so there’s less room for hurt feelings or conflict. And don’t forget about time management—step-siblings need to agree on a schedule that gives everyone their fair share of quality time with their parents.
Be kind, not mean.
Even if you feel annoyed by your step sibling’s behavior, remember that your parents love both of you equally. Your step-siblings might annoy you occasionally, but they don’t deserve to be treated with disrespect. Set a good example by treating each other with respect, even when experiencing some step sibling rivalry.
Now that you know what a step sibling rivalry is, here are some simple tips for handling it in public.
- Step-siblings tend to act out their rivalries more frequently in front of strangers or new people. The best thing you can do if you’re witnessing an outburst from two step-siblings is to try to diffuse things. In most cases, it’s only verbal sparring back and forth, but don’t assume your presence will make them stop.
- Step-sibling rivalry is most likely due to their circumstances, but there are ways you can help them deal with it. If you know that one of your step-siblings is about to go off on another, try diffusing by getting them some space or taking them away for a few minutes.
- Step sibling rivalry is just a part of life, and with patience and understanding, it can be dealt with. Take a deep breath, step back, let them take out their aggression on each other in private (or on you), talk to them afterward, help soothe things over – they’ll grow out of it soon enough.
Stepsibling rivalry is typical in families where divorce or remarriage occurs. There is no way around it – kids will fight, and often if you step into a new family as an adult in a new marriage or relationship, it’s a guarantee that your stepsibling will have issues with other kids. There’s nothing you can do about that, and you can help mediate these arguments before they escalate into full-blown conflicts.