Nine Ways to Ensure Siblings Get Along

Here are some simple things nannies and au pairs can do every day to prevent sibling fighting.

1. Set ground rules for acceptable behavior. No cursing, no name-calling, no yelling, no hitting, and no door slamming allowed.

2. Solicit their input on the rules and consequences. This teaches kids that they are responsible for their own actions.

3. Do not let children make you think that everything always has to be “fair” and “equal” ā€” sometimes one kid needs more than the other.

4. Give kids one-on-one attention directed to their interests and needs.

5. Make sure children have their own space and time to do their own thing ā€” to play with toys by themselves, to play with friends without a sibling tagging along, or to enjoy activities without having to share 50-50.

6. Have fun together. Fun activities can help reduce conflict.

7. If children frequently squabble over the same things, (such as video games or dibs on the TV remote), post a schedule showing which child “owns” that item at what times during the week.

8. Recognize when children just need time apart from each other. Try arranging separate play dates or activities for each kid occasionally. And when one child is on a play date, you can spend
one-on-one time with another.

9. Keep in mind that sometimes kids fight to get adult attention. When possible let siblings work out their own issues. If you give bickering too much attention, squabbling may be a way to
get your attention.

Photo by Jennifer Echols


  1. I know this may sound horrible, but since it worked, I will share it.I care for 4 kids, all very close in age, someone is always usually fighting with someone else.I was at my wits end on a Friday, after a long work week with them. It was a rainy day off from school, with all of the children just getting over being sick, so we needed to stay home and relax. After being cooped up with each other, they kept getting into fights all day long.After breaking up many fights, asking them to be nice to each other, I finally I said, “Hit her harder! Pull her hair! Make her bleed! They looked at me like I was crazy!I said- “Oh, I guess you don’t want to hurt your brother/sister after all?”After that day, (it’s been, two months now), they have been better and not been hitting each other as much.

  2. Commenter Above:That’s a great idea actually. I remember reading on this blog about sending the kids to a specific room when they fight. For example, the kids are only allowed to fight in the basement. So they start bickering I say, “Go to the basement if you are going to fight.” They don’t make it to the basement because on the way it sounds ridiculous. But, doesn’t work on playdates.Nanny Katie, Madison Wisconsin

  3. I just do not know how to discipline someone elses children. I feel like the parents have to determine the punishments, rewards, chores, and so on… The parents are my boss. They tell me what to do. I can tell the kids to get their books, put toys away, put on their jackets and such with no problem. If the mother of father says their kids can’t have dessert because he is being punished I can enforce their wishes. But, for me to punish them more than just giving a time out is not my place at this time. Maybe in a different type of family or after I have more experience I will assert myself more in this area.

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