Although it might feel impossible sometimes, many siblings grow up to be close friends. It might take years and a lot of maturing before this happens, but in the meantime, There are steps you can take to avoid fighting with your sibling and smooth out your relationship. Here are a few examples:
Take a minute. Before you react to something your sibling has said or done, take a deep breath and think about the situation. Maybe you’re angry at your sibling or frustrated by a bigger underlying issue.
Try to talk it out. This might be hard because your sibling might be at a different maturity level than you, but it’s worth a shot. Your sibling might not react the way that you’d like, but there are a lot of benefits to discussing the issue. Talking about why you’re frustrated can help you gain some insight on the situation, and help your sibling understand where you’re coming from. It can also give you a chance to hear your sibling’s side of the story. And sometimes it just feels good to say what you feel. If you do talk to your sibling about how you’re feeling, be sure to come at the conversation from an angle that won’t put him or her on the defensive.
Try to use “I” phrases… to describe how you feel – for example, “I feel frustrated that when you…” – instead of laying blame. Checkout the tips for communicating effectively fact sheet for more info on this.
Avoid getting physical. Sometimes fights can escalate to physical violence, especially if one sibling feels defensive. It can be tempting to resort to violence if you’re feeling frustrated or if your sibling becomes violent with you-but violence is never an acceptable way to deal with feelings.
Value your differences. People might try to compare you and your siblings, and this might cause you to compare yourself to your siblings as well. It’s easy to get upset over these comparisons, but Try to remember that you’re very different people with different talents, interests and abilities…ideas and opinions; recognizing these positive attributes and valuing your siblings for their different qualities can help put your relationship in a new light.
Be supportive of your siblings. Even if you don’t realize it, your opinion matters a lot to your siblings… or they wouldn’t get so defensive when you express it negatively. Maybe they just need a pat on the back or a “congratulations” for a big accomplishment. We often work on our relationships with friends, schoolmates, and co-workers, but take the relationships we have with our siblings for granted. These relationships need work,too, and small, random acts of kindness and support can go a long way.
Acknowledgement: This fact sheet was originally developed by youth and staff at ReachOut.com, a website that helps teens get through tough times.