In my last article, I shared what parents should know about sibling rivalry and how it can manifest in different children. Here are some suggestions I have shared with parents over the years to help ease and manage sibling rivalry between children.

1. Space your children, if possible, three years apart. This gives one child enough time to leave your knee, as he or she reaches for independence, which is the best time to put another child on your knee.

2. Even though there are times in all of our lives when one child is easier than the other, or that we see something of ourselves or our mate in one child or the other, discipline yourself not to show any signs of outward favoritism.

3. Parents must parent. This means to step into your adult and even override exhaustion to give each child some private time with Mom and Dad.

4. Keep your child in the loop. Explain to your child when a new child is about to be born, and invest them in the process of how to welcome the new baby and care for it.

5. Make your older child your ally. With a wink and a nod, this child can help you shop, choose toys, and even help select special foods for your new baby. If you bring your older child into the process, he or she will be more likely to participate with good will.

6. Never make one child responsible for the other. No babysitting.

7. Never make your children share their toys. I can hear the ooh’s and ah’s out there, but what belongs to your children is their possession and only if it is their choice to share, should it be brought into a common area.

8. Never discount, demean, or embarrass your older children. Never tell them to be a big girl or boy, to act grown-up, or to be understanding. They are children and they have feelings too. Instead, confirm their feelings with sentences such as, “of course you feel this way, I understand completely.” Empathy goes a long way towards cooperation.

9. Never compare your children, their grades, their behavior, or the way they look. No competition, ever. No family games where one can win and one can lose. This is a family and not a sports arena, and children should be raised in collaboration not competition. Never tell one child you love that child better than the other because they are behaving better. This is a form of splitting that can turn one child against the other forever.

10. Never tell one child to do things the same way the other one does.

11. Never discuss one child with the other. You don’t like it when someone talks behind your back; follow the same courteous behavior with your children.

12. Don’t manipulate. Manipulation is humiliation and makes your children feel undervalued and they will not trust you, themselves, or others if you diminish their self-esteem.

13. Be fair. This is one of the most essential rules. Your child is watching you and is very cognizant of even-handedness, which, in his/her mind, translates to being loved equally.

14. Practice and rehearse communication through listening. Let your children tell you how they feel. If you listen with empathy, they will tell you everything, and together you can find ways to problem solve. Invest your children in the process.

15. Finally, be prepared – when holidays, birthdays, and family gatherings occur, think ahead and find ways as a family to come up with some rules, a plan that can help nip in the bud any of the regular stressful patterns with which you as a family are familiar, and can handle with love.


  • Dr. Gail Gross

    Author and Parenting, Relationships, and Human Behavior Expert

    Dr. Gail Gross, Ph.D., Ed.D., M.Ed., a member of the American Psychological Association (APA) and member of APA Division 39, is a nationally recognized family, child development, and human behavior expert, author, and educator. Her positive and integrative approach to difficult issues helps families navigate today’s complex problems. Dr. Gross is frequently called upon by national and regional media to offer her insight on topics involving family relationships, education, behavior, and development issues. A dependable authority, Dr. Gross has contributed to broadcast, print and online media including CNN, the Today Show, CNBC's The Doctors, Hollywood Reporter, FOX radio, FOX’s The O’Reilly Factor, MSNBC, The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, The Washington Post, Times of India, People magazine, Parents magazine, Scholastic Parent and Child Magazine, USA Today, Univision, ABC, CBS, and KHOU's Great Day Houston Show. She is a veteran radio talk show host as well as the host of the nationally syndicated PBS program, “Let’s Talk.” Also, Dr. Gross has written a semi-weekly blog for The Huffington Post and has blogged at since 2013. Recently, Houston Women's Magazine named her One of Houston's Most Influential Women of 2016. Dr. Gross is a longtime leader in finding solutions to the nation’s toughest education challenges. She co-founded the first-of-its kind Cuney Home School with her husband Jenard, in partnership with Texas Southern University. The school serves as a national model for improving the academic performance of students from housing projects by engaging the parents. Dr. Gross also has a public school elementary and secondary campus in Texas that has been named for her. Additionally, she recently completed leading a landmark, year-long study in the Houston Independent School District to examine how stress-reduction affects academics, attendance, and bullying in elementary school students, and a second study on stress and its effects on learning. Such work has earned her accolades from distinguished leaders such as the Dalai Lama, who presented her with the first Spirit of Freedom award in 1998. More recently, she was honored in 2013 with the Jung Institute award. She also received the Good Heart Humanitarian Award from Jewish Women International, Perth Amboy High School Hall of Fame Award, the Great Texan of the Year Award, the Houston Best Dressed Hall of Fame Award, Trailblazer Award, Get Real New York City Convention's 2014 Blogging Award, and Woman of Influence Award. Dr. Gross’ book, The Only Way Out Is Through, is available on Amazon now and offers strategies for life’s transitions including coping with loss, drawing from dealing with the death of her own daughter. Her next book, How to Build Your Baby’s Brain, is also available on Amazon now and teaches parents how to enhance their child’s learning potential by understanding and recognizing their various development stages. And her first research book was published by Random House in 1987 on health and skin care titled Beautiful Skin. Dr. Gross has created 8 audio tapes on relaxation and stress reduction that can be purchased on Most recently, Dr. Gross’s book, The Only Way Out is Through, was named a Next Generation Indie Book Awards Silver Medal finalist in 2020 and Winner of the 2021 Independent Press Awards in the categories of Death & Dying as well as Grief. Her latest book, How to Build Your Baby’s Brain, was the National Parenting Product Awards winner in 2019, the Nautilus Book Awards winner in 2019, ranked the No. 1 Best New Parenting Book in 2019 and listed among the Top 10 Parenting Books to Read in 2020 by BookAuthority, as well as the Next Generation Indie Book Awards Gold Medal winner in 2020 and Winner of the 2021 Independent Press Awards in the category of How-To. Dr. Gross received a BS in Education and an Ed.D. (Doctorate of Education) with a specialty in Curriculum and Instruction from the University of Houston. She earned her Master’s degree in Secondary Education with a focus on Psychology from the University of St. Thomas in Houston. Dr. Gross received her second PhD in Psychology, with a concentration in Jungian studies. Dr. Gross was the recipient of Kappa Delta Pi An International Honor Society in Education. Dr. Gross was elected member of the International English Honor Society Sigma Tau Delta.