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How to Handle Adult Sibling Rivalry

Fighting with siblings is only natural -- but letting a feud fester into adulthood can cause serious damage. Here's how to put an end to your sibling rivalry.


  • Step 1: Understand the root Understand the roots of sibling rivalry. Studies show that conflicts often begin in childhood due to factors such as parental treatment, gender, family dynamics, and age differential.
  • Step 2: See your sibling as a person Recognize your sibling as an actual person. Avoid the temptation to regress to childhood labels like "the attention seeker' or "the perfect one" -- your sibling has likely long outgrown that phase.
  • Step 3: Pinpoint the friction Pinpoint the source of friction. It's easy to shift the blame of your rivalry entirely onto your sibling, but acknowledging your own part will give you a deeper understanding of the conflict.
  • Step 4: Hash it out Hash out the hostility. Start by saying "I'm sorry" for whatever part you may have played in the sibling rivalry. Researchers have found people automatically respond positively to hearing an apology. Then, focus on reaching an understanding and ways to fix the problem.
  • TIP: If you live apart from your sibling, don't use a family gathering to confront them. Plan to meet in a neutral setting or talk over the phone.
  • Step 5: Change what you can Realize what you can and can't change about your relationship, and try to make peace with a compromise. You may not be able to choose your family, but you can do your best to overcome sibling rivalry.
  • FACT: 80% of siblings over the age of 60 say they've ended their rivalry, while 4% stay angry forever, according to a survey.

You Will Need

  • Understanding
  • Willingness to compromise

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