How to Deal With Your Siblings

Three Methods:Communicating with Siblings, Parents and OthersCreating SpaceCompromising

Having siblings can be a great experience, but siblings can also be a source of annoyance and frustration. Whether younger or older, it might sometimes seem as if siblings exist to make your life miserable! It's possible to improve your interactions with your siblings by communicating with them and others, creating space, and compromising.

Method 1
Communicating with Siblings, Parents and Others

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    Ask your sibling why they are behaving the way they are. The first and most simple way to resolve a conflict is to talk to your brother or sister. Ask them thoughtful and genuine questions about why they are acting the way that they are.[1]Direct questions can include:
    • "Why are you acting so off-the-wall lately?"
    • "Is there something I can do to make things between us better?"
    • "Has something been bothering you recently to make you act out?"
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    Keep calm and don’t be angry. Any hostility will further provoke your sibling and make them more likely to continue to bother, annoy or harass you. Take deep breaths while speaking to calm yourself and relax, then reassess the situation and approach it again once you're no longer angry.[2]
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    Be understanding. Respect your sibling and their situation, and try to see things from their view. They may be jealous of something, angry with you for some reason, or simply looking for attention.[3]
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    Describe the situation to your sibling from your perspective. Ask them to think about how they would feel if you treated them the way they are treating you. By doing this, you can persuade them to feel empathy for your situation, and imagine what it would be like from your perspective.[4]
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    Speak directly and frankly. Talk about exactly the way you feel without stepping around the issue, and ask them to stop their negative behavior. Whether they're younger or older, get right at the heart of what's bothering you. Try saying:
    • "Your behavior is keeping me from getting my work done, and while I love you, it's getting out of hand."
    • "You and your friends make fun of me, and I don't appreciate it. It really hurts my feelings."
    • "I don't like it when you take my things without asking. I'd be more than happy to share them with you, but I also don't want them to get lost."
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    Ask a parent or guardian for advice if things don't go well with your sibling. Your parent will know both you and your sibling’s behaviors and stories, and they may be able to give valuable advice about the way your sibling is behaving and why.
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    Ask your parent to intervene. While no one likes to be a “tattle-tale”, there are many situations in which a parent may need to step in and help you directly. They might discipline your sibling or talk to them for you.
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    Ask your parent sit in on a neutral conversation between you and your sibling. If talking to your brother or sister alone didn’t make a change, having a parent watch over the conversation can help to keep it civil.
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    Ask your friends for advice. Many of your friends will also have siblings, and have been through the same things. Whether they have younger siblings or older siblings, they’ll likely have great advice and stories about times they resolved conflicts in their own families.
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Method 2
Creating Space

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    Spend time away from your sibling. When your sibling has bothered or bullied you to the point that you’re frustrated, take some time and create space between you both. Creating space and seeking privacy can give you time to cool off, think about your thoughts, and return to the situation when you’re less frustrated.[5] Some examples of space-making activities might be:
    • Going into a bedroom or office and doing school work
    • Taking a long bath or shower
    • Leaving the house to hang out with friends
    • Joining a club or activity group
    • Going to a library to read or use the internet
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    Ignore their bad behavior. While constantly avoiding problems with your siblings is unlikely to change their behavior, ignoring them when they act out can be a powerful tool. Often, annoying or irritating siblings (and people in general) are seeking attention from you.[6] If you deny them the attention by ignoring them, you can show them that their behavior isn’t working.
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    Try hard to keep things peaceful between you and your siblings on your end. If they're bothering you and making you frustrated, count to ten and try to avoid retaliating. Walking away and taking a break from the situation can diffuse things.
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    Ask a parent to separate you. Just like asking a parent for advice or intervention, asking a parent to separate you when things get rough can be a good way to stop your sibling’s bad behavior.

Method 3

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    Realize that your sibling may want something from you. Sometimes, when siblings act out, all they want is time and attention. This may be true especially if your sibling is younger than you. They may want you to read to them, play with them, or just spend more time around them.[7]
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    Don't be afraid to stand up for yourself! When a sibling is annoying you, simply telling them that you need a break from the annoyance can work, as long as you tell them respectfully. Simply telling them to stop will give you better control of the situation and empower you to stand your ground even more next time. They'll also learn that you will only take so much.[8]
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    Explain to them that you need your own time. Whether it’s studying, hanging out with friends or working on projects, help your sibling to understand that they need to respect your time.
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    Take time out of your day to do things with them. You don’t need to schedule hour-long blocks of sibling-only time: you can space a couple of 15 minute breaks to spend with them throughout your day. Throw a football, talk to them about their day, cook a meal with them, or play with toys.
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    Spend an entire day with them. Ask your brother or sister what they’d like to do, and spend a whole day on an adventure.[9]
    • Take them to a museum and explore the exhibits
    • Go to a sporting event
    • Go shopping and buy them something nice
    • Go to the movies and then out to eat
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    Offer them a bargain. If talking alone doesn’t keep your sibling at bay, strike a bargain. Giving them something they want can help maintain peace in your house! Consider compromises, such as:
    • "If you can go a week without bothering me, I'll do your chores for the whole week."
    • "If you leave me alone while I do my homework, I'll take you to get ice cream later."
    • "If you stop messing with me, I'll let you have the house to yourself when you hang out with friends on Friday."
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    Realize that you might annoy them! Consider whether you've been rude, irritating or needy towards them lately. It might be possible that you're doing the same things to them that they've done to you. Ask them what bothers them about your behavior, and promise to stop your bad habits if they stop theirs.[10]


  • Remember, sibling conflict is normal! As with any type of relationship, not every day or interaction will be perfect. Try to keep this in perspective.
  • Don’t forget that you love your siblings. No matter how annoying they are, they are family and will always be there for you.
  • Treat them the way you want to be treated.


  • If your sibling becomes violent, go to a parent or adult immediately. Do not try to deal with the situation on your own.
  • Never, ever resort to physical violence. While frustration may lead to anger, stay calm by breathing deeply and taking a ten second time out from the situation.

Article Info

Categories: Siblings