Sibling Rivalry and Tantrums: Strategies for Peace in the Home

The arrival of a new sibling can be a joyous occasion, but it can also bring challenges. Sibling rivalry and tantrums often emerge as children struggle with adjusting to a new family dynamic and navigating their emotions. While these behaviors are normal, they can be frustrating for parents seeking a peaceful household.

This blog explores 30 strategies to promote peace and harmony in your home when dealing with sibling rivalry and tantrums:

Strategies for Parents and Caregivers:

Anticipate and Prepare:

The arrival of a new sibling brings joy and excitement, but it can also stir up sibling rivalry and tantrums as children adjust to the new dynamic. Here are some strategies to help you anticipate and prepare for these challenges:

Create Individual Spaces:

  • Designate individual spaces for each child: This could be a corner of a room, a bedroom, or a separate play area.
  • Decorate the space to reflect the child’s personality and interests: This helps them feel ownership and belonging.
  • Encourage individual activities in these spaces: This allows children to explore their interests and develop their creativity independently.

Identifying Potential Triggers:

  • Developmental Stages: Pay attention to developmental milestones and transitions, as these can exacerbate rivalry and tantrums. For example, a 3-year-old may feel insecure about their role when a new baby arrives.
  • Lack of Attention: Both children may compete for your attention, especially when one feels neglected or ignored.
  • Shared Resources: Conflicts can arise over shared toys, space, and parental attention.
  • Fatigue and Hunger: Low blood sugar and tiredness can lower children’s threshold for frustration, leading to tantrums.

Preparing Your Environment and Mindset:

  • Set Clear Expectations and Boundaries: Before the new sibling arrives, establish consistent rules and expectations for both children regarding behavior, sharing, and personal space.
  • Create Dedicated Spaces: Designate individual spaces for each child where they can feel secure and have their own belongings.
  • Stock Up on Activities: Keep a variety of age-appropriate toys and activities on hand to prevent boredom and redirect attention during challenging moments.
  • Communicate Openly: Talk to both children about the upcoming changes, address their concerns, and answer their questions honestly.
  • Focus on Positive Reinforcement: Instead of focusing solely on correcting negative behavior, praise and reward positive interactions between your children.
  • Practice Empathy and Validation: Acknowledge your children’s feelings, whether positive or negative, and help them express themselves verbally instead of resorting to tantrums.


  • Proactive Strategies and Tools:

    • Role-Playing Scenarios: Practice how to handle potential conflicts through role-playing scenarios, allowing children to learn problem-solving skills.
    • Social Stories and Books: Read stories about sibling relationships and conflict resolution to teach children positive coping mechanisms.
    • Create a Calming Corner: Designate a quiet space where children can go to de-escalate and calm down during overwhelming moments.
    • Introduce Relaxation Techniques: Teach simple breathing exercises, counting methods, or visualization techniques to help children manage their emotions.
    • Schedule Individual Time: Dedicate one-on-one time with each child to strengthen individual bonds and provide individual attention.


  • Anticipating and preparing for potential challenges can help you manage sibling rivalry and tantrums more effectively.
  • Consistency and patience are key when implementing new routines and boundaries.
  • Seek professional support if sibling rivalry or tantrums become severe or cause significant distress.


  • By proactively preparing and fostering a nurturing environment, you can equip your children with the tools they need to navigate sibling relationships and express their emotions in healthy ways.

Set Setting Clear Expectations and Boundaries for Sibling Rivalry and Tantrums

  • Establishing clear expectations and boundaries is crucial for managing sibling rivalry and preventing tantrums. This creates a predictable environment where children understand what is expected of them and feel secure in their roles within the family.

Here are some strategies for setting clear expectations and boundaries:

Establish Consistent Rules:

    • Develop age-appropriate rules: Consider your children’s developmental stages when establishing rules.
    • Focus on positive behavior: Instead of solely focusing on what not to do, emphasize desired behaviors like sharing, taking turns, and using kind words.
    • Keep rules simple and clear: Use concise language that is easy for children to understand and remember.
    • Involve your children: When possible, involve your children in creating the rules to promote ownership and understanding.

Communicate Expectations Clearly:

  • Use direct and positive communication: Avoid yelling, threats, or sarcasm.
  • Explain the rationale behind the rules: Help children understand why the rules exist and how they benefit everyone.
  • Focus on solutions instead of blame: When conflicts arise, work together with your children to find solutions that address the issue and promote cooperation.
  • Model positive behavior: Demonstrate the behavior you expect from your children through your own actions and interactions.

Implement Consistent Consequences:

    • Establish clear consequences for breaking the rules: Consequences should be fair, consistent, and appropriate for the age and behavior of the child.
    • Focus on natural consequences: When possible, allow natural consequences to occur, such as a child losing a toy they refuse to share.
    • Avoid power struggles: Stick to the established consequences and avoid giving in to tantrums or bargaining.
    • Offer opportunities for learning: After implementing consequences, use the opportunity to teach your children about their behavior and help them develop better coping mechanisms.

Create a Positive and Nurturing Environment:

    • Provide individual attention: Dedicate time to each child individually to fulfill their emotional needs and build strong individual bonds.
    • Offer praise and encouragement: Celebrate positive behaviors and interactions between your children to reinforce desired behavior.
    • Focus on strengths and talents: Encourage and celebrate each child’s unique strengths and abilities to foster self-esteem and positive self-worth.
    • Promote teamwork and cooperation: Create opportunities for children to work together on projects or activities to encourage collaboration and communication.

Be Flexible and Consistent:

    • Adjust expectations and boundaries as needed: As your children grow and develop, their needs will change. Be willing to adjust your expectations and boundaries accordingly.
    • Maintain consistency in enforcing rules and consequences: Consistency is key to ensuring the effectiveness of your expectations and boundaries.
    • Be patient and understanding: Learning to manage their emotions and navigate relationships takes time and practice. Be patient with your children and offer support throughout the process.


  • Setting clear expectations and boundaries is an ongoing process. It requires consistent effort and communication from parents and caregivers.
  • With patience, understanding, and positive reinforcement, you can create a peaceful and harmonious environment where your children can learn, grow, and develop healthy relationships.

Additional Tips:

  • Use visual aids like charts or pictures to help children remember the rules and expectations.
  • Create a family contract where everyone agrees to the established rules and consequences.
  • Involve other caregivers, like grandparents or babysitters, in enforcing the same rules and expectations.
  • Seek professional support if you need help setting expectations and boundaries or managing challenging behaviors.

By implementing these strategies and providing a supportive environment, you can guide your children towards developing healthy sibling relationships and navigating their emotions in constructive ways.

Practicing Positive Reinforcement for Sibling Rivalry and Tantrums

  • Positive reinforcement is a powerful tool for encouraging desired behaviors and promoting healthy interactions between siblings. By focusing on rewarding positive interactions and celebrating desirable behaviors, you can create an environment that encourages cooperation, empathy, and mutual respect.

Here are some strategies for practicing positive reinforcement for sibling rivalry and tantrums:

Identify and Define Positive Behaviors:

    • Focus on specific behaviors: Instead of rewarding general “good behavior,” identify specific actions you want to encourage, such as sharing, taking turns, using kind words, or offering help.
    • Tailor rewards to individual preferences: Choose rewards that each child finds motivating, such as extra playtime, choosing a favorite activity, or earning privileges.
    • Be clear and consistent: Clearly communicate what behaviors will be rewarded and consistently follow through with the agreed-upon rewards.

Offer Immediate and Specific Praise:

  • Acknowledge and praise positive interactions: When siblings cooperate, share, or show kindness towards each other, immediately acknowledge their actions with specific praise.
  • Focus on effort and positive intentions: Highlight the effort your child puts into behaving positively, even if the outcome is not perfect.
  • Use nonverbal cues: In addition to verbal praise, use nonverbal cues like smiles, hugs, or high fives to show your appreciation.

Create a Reward System:

  • Implement a simple reward system: Design a chart or visual system where children can track their positive behaviors and earn rewards.
  • Start small and gradually increase the difficulty: Begin with easily achievable goals and gradually increase the difficulty as children become accustomed to the system.
  • Offer a variety of rewards: Provide a range of rewards to cater to different interests and preferences, including tangible objects, activities, or privileges.
  • Allow for self-selection of rewards: Give children some choice in the rewards they can earn to increase motivation and ownership.

Avoid Negative Reinforcement:

  • Focus on rewarding positive behaviors instead of punishing negative ones: Negative reinforcement can backfire and actually increase the unwanted behavior.
  • Avoid yelling, threats, or ridicule: These tactics can damage self-esteem and lead to resentment between siblings.
  • Focus on solutions and positive communication: Instead of dwelling on negative behavior, work together with your children to find solutions and guide them towards positive choices.

Celebrate Individual Achievements:

  • Recognize and celebrate each child’s individual achievements: This promotes self-esteem and helps children feel valued and appreciated.
  • Avoid comparisons: Comparing siblings can lead to envy and resentment. Focus on celebrating each child’s unique strengths and accomplishments.
  • Create opportunities for individual expression: Provide each child with individual time and activities to foster their individual interests and talents.


  • Practicing positive reinforcement takes time and consistent effort. Be patient and celebrate small victories along the way.
  • Positive reinforcement is most effective when combined with clear expectations and boundaries.
  • Create a warm and supportive environment where children feel safe to express their emotions and learn from their mistakes.

By focusing on the positive and rewarding desired behaviors, you can help your children develop healthy sibling relationships, build positive self-esteem, and navigate challenging situations with emotional intelligence.

Additional Tips:

  • Encourage children to “catch each other being good” and praise positive behaviors they observe in their siblings.
  • Use positive self-talk to encourage children to believe in themselves and their abilities.
  • Celebrate special occasions together as a family to strengthen bonds and create positive memories.
  • Seek professional support if you are struggling to manage sibling rivalry or tantrums with positive reinforcement techniques.

How Dr. Sumeet Dhawan Can Help:


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