How can I get along with my sibling?

Brother and sister having a friendly pillow fight
Photo: © Hemant Mehta / 123RF Stock Photo

Fights between siblings are common — in fact they are a fairly normal part of growing up. Learning how to deal with differences and clashes early on can set the stage for a lifetime of positive relationship.

Your brother or sister is, perhaps, the person you’ll know the longest in your life. Having a sister or brother has its advantages. No one knows you better than your sister or brother. Siblings can have a terrific sharing relationship with each other and be closest friends.

On the flip side, teen siblings who are the best of friends one moment, can hate each other intensely the next — especially if he is a topper in studies or she is a star athlete and you are the last one to be selected for any school team and manage just an ‘average’ in studies.

Being jealous and envious of your sibling is normal. It is known as sibling rivalry. Even the best of families encounter it at some point. But what are the reasons behind this rivalry? What to do if your brother or sister drives you crazy?

It is good to know why you are fighting and the different things you can do to ease the tension, like effective ways of talking to your brother or sister without it turning into a vicious argument or slanging match. Sometimes it can’t be resolved and that’s when you might have to agree to disagree.

Learning how to deal with differences and clashes early on can set the stage for a lifetime of positive relationship. In addition, it will help you to get along with other people outside the family.

Changing needs

The needs of teenagers change rapidly and anxieties associated with friends, teachers, schools and even neighbours can affect teen sibling relationships. As a teenager you are developing a sense of independence, freedom and individuality. When there is another teenager struggling for independence and dominance under the same roof, rivalry is likely to ensue.

Treat the other as an individual and recognize his/her differences to foster a sense of individuality.

Favouritism and fairness

Teen sibling rivalry is often fuelled by feelings of favouritism or inequality. Conflicts erupt over issues like who gets more attention, who determines what TV shows to watch, share of household chores, being granted special privileges and waiting for turns.

Parents will try to minimize this rivalry by reassuring each one of you that they love you both equally. They may outline a goal or specific behaviour to help decrease the perception of favouritism.


Jealousy may arise at school, in social situations and at home. As you try to fit in with your peers, you often compare your looks, skills and achievements with those of others. Teen siblings will naturally feel jealous of each other. You may be jealous of your sister’s looks and talents; your brother might feel that he could make friends as easily as you do.

Your sister brings home one trophy after another — singing, swimming, basketball — and your parents proudly place them prominently in the living room showcase! Every person who visits is led to the showcase so that your parents can rave about how proud they are about their ‘Shining Star’! Meanwhile you are not even mentioned.

Whereas your sister is stunningly beautiful, a perfect student, a star sports person and hogs the spotlight, you recede into the darkness of her shadow. She gets A+s and you, Cs! It gets worse when your parents constantly praise her in your presence as if to say, “Why can’t you be more like her”? That kind of attention and needling can make you jealous.

That can be a real source of bad feeling between siblings. Living in your sibling’s shadow can make you feel awkward and feel depressed.

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Gratian Vas
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Gratian Vas

Gratian Vas is a former teacher, headmaster, principal and resource person for educational institutions. In a career spanning 50 years, he has written over 150 educational and general books for young readers.