When teen siblings don’t get along, the entire family can suffer the anger and animosity present between the two adolescents. Although some amount of rivalry between siblings is normal, if the relationship devolves to the point of extreme negativism, some parental intervention may be necessary. By handling teen siblings who are mistreating each other, you can work to change a negative relationship to a more positive relationship.
Sit your teens down to discuss the negative feelings and actions you have been witnessing. Explain to your adolescents that you understand feeling frustrated and angry in response to various situations, but that you will not tolerate your teens engaging in constant battles and hateful fighting in your home. Tell your teens that you are instituting a peace policy in your home.
Set clear expectations and family rules for your teens’ behavior, advises North Dakota State University. Give your teens a complete overview of the family rules, including chores for each teen, boundaries each teen must respect and other personal requirements for each teen. The boundaries should include the teenagers respecting each other and not interfering with the other teen’s conduct.
Provide consequences for the teenagers if they disregard or break the rules. If your teenagers fail to complete chores, they may not have privileges to go out with friends.
Disengage from your teenagers if they engage in disruptive and negative behavior with each other, recommends James Lehman, MSW, with the Empowering Parents website. Walk away, out of the room or area, so you cannot hear and see the fighting. Refuse to become involved in the fighting and do not give it attention. Mediating teenagers’ fights can reinforce the behavior. You might say, "OK -- this is my cue to exit. When you two are done fighting, I'll be back."
Give personal and one-on-one attention to each teenager to cultivate a strong relationship with both adolescent. This personal attention helps teenagers feel valued and loved, which can help them get along better. Personal attention might include going for walks, stepping out for a cup of tea or shooting hoops together.
Avoid cultivating a feeling of competition or jealousy between the teenagers. Avoid comparing them because this may incite negative feelings between the teens. Provide praise and positive feedback to each child, as warranted, to ensure that both teens feel your approval of strengths. When you see something praiseworthy, pull your teen aside and give him a quick high-five or tell him, "Nice work on that report. I can tell you worked hard!"
Teach your teenagers that they will be siblings and (hopefully) friends forever, advises Dr. William Sears, pediatrician and author. The relationship between siblings can transcend all events and milestones of a lifetime, so encourage your children to value the sibling relationship. You might say, "You may have trouble getting along with your brother, now. But you two will share memories that should make you buddies for life."
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