How Family Therapy Can Improve Sibling Relationships

Sibling Relationships is a challenge as old as the family unit itself. As long as there have been siblings, there has been sibling rivalry.

This rivalry is not in and of itself a bad thing; sibling interactions help a child learn how to interact both negatively and successfully with other humans – a valuable skill they will take into adulthood.

So how do you know when sibling rivalry has outgrown its usefulness and actually become detrimental to the mental health and relationships of your children?

Sibling Rivalry Signs

Some telling signs you can look for include:

  • Physical aggression causing injuries, especially repeated
  • Emotional distress during (or in anticipation of) sibling interactions
  • Emotional distress from sibling interactions that affects other areas of their life
  • Persistent domination of one sibling over another
  • Persistent reliance on one sibling, even when an adult caregiver is present

If you’re seeing one or more of these signs in your children, it may be time to get some professional help. While sibling relationships may not seem that important when children are young, these are formative experiences that can have a profound impact on how a person connects and interacts with the world as an adult.

What You Can Do to Improve Sibling Relationships

Here are four steps you, as a parent, can take to improve the sibling relationship between your children.

  1. Initiate Positive Experiences
    Our experiences within a family create lifelong memories and can have a formative effect on our personality and confidence. Sharing positive experiences as a family and as siblings is an important part of creating a positive foundation for your child.Look for activities that both siblings enjoy and try to make these happen regularly. Creating as many positive memories and interactions as possible between your children will help them maintain a good relationship into adulthoodYour example and direction can also go a long way, too. You are your children’s model for how to behave and treat others.

    Make sure to praise your children when they interact well with each other, and redirect their behavior and responses as needed.

  2. Establish Appropriate Boundaries
    Boundaries are necessary regardless of age. Creating clear, balanced boundaries for your children will help them to know what behavior is acceptable and what isn’t.It can be very helpful to include your children in the discussion about what boundaries to set. This helps them feel heard and helps them to respect boundaries more easily
  3. Create Clear Family Roles
    While often necessary, it can be confusing for a younger child when their older sibling has helped care for them or babysits them. Make sure both children understand who is the parent and who are their peers within your family unit.
  4. Take Part In Family Therapy
    Family Therapy is a therapy modality proven over many years with countless families. It can help parents and siblings to:

    • Set and maintain appropriate boundaries
    • Identify obstacles
    • Clearly define family roles
    • Bond and understand each other
    • Get needed support as caregivers
    • Get professional input when abuse is suspected
Get Help

Your child’s relationship with his or her siblings plays a key role in their development as a person. If your child is struggling with their sibling, don’t delay in getting them the help they need to develop positively.

Given Guidance Family Counseling are an established mental health therapy practice providing Family Therapy to families in the La Crescenta area of California. Our caring team of therapists are ready to help you help your family grow positively together. Schedule your first session today.