Adult Sibling Bullying: 14 Ways to Handle It (Coping Strategies)

Last Updated on February 14, 2024 by Lifevif Team and JC Franco

If you are an adult dealing with bullying from your siblings, you might feel as if you are reaching a breaking point. Bullying at any age is a traumatic experience. You might have thought that the fighting and bullying would stop as you got older. If it hasn’t and you want to have a good relationship with your siblings as an adult, you need to drum up a few effective ways to deal with it. 

It’s tough when, as an adult, you have to deal with being bullied. It’s even tougher when the bullies are your own flesh and blood. Adult sibling bullying is not something you have to endure your entire life. There are a few effective ways that you can deal with it. Let’s take a look at several ways below.

How to handle adult sibling bullying – 15 simple coping tips:

1. Educate yourself on the topic of sibling rivalry and bullying.

Before you do anything extreme, do a bit of research into sibling bullying and rivalry. Buy a few books, read articles online and consider joining an online support group. You might acquire a wealth of knowledge and understanding that helps you understand your sibling better, which can help you to figure out the problem.

2. Try to get to the root cause of the problem.

Have you ever given the actual reason for the bullying much thought? Is there a deeper reason why your sibling sees you as someone to be bullied? You may tend to think that your sibling is just a jerk, but often there’s a deeper reason why they are bullying you. Understanding the actual problem could help you turn the entire situation around. 

3. Ask your sibling to go to a therapy session with you.

Going to therapy if you are being bullied can really help you learn to assert yourself more, but it could also help with actually understanding the problem and working on it with your sibling. You could mention that you are going to therapy and would like your sibling to come along to discuss a few issues. If they agree, try your best not to make it a sibling bashing session and try to avoid adopting a victim approach in the session. 

4. Examine what your role might be in the issue.

What is your role in the entire situation? If your sibling is bullying you, ask yourself what you could be doing to make them behave in that way. Sometimes people play a role in their own bullying and don’t even know it. Could you potentially be bullying your sibling unconsciously or doing something that makes them feel inferior? By adjusting your behavior towards your sibling, the bullying could subside. 

5. Talk to your siblings about it. 

Whether it is one sibling or all of them picking on you, bringing it up is a good way of dealing with it. Sometimes when something is brought out into the open, real growth can begin. You don’t have to get confrontational about it, but mention that the bullying is making you feel bad and that it’s angering you or hurting your feelings. Sometimes explaining to someone that they are hurting or upsetting you can help to nip the problem in the bud. 

6. Stand up for yourself.

Sometimes bullying is a result of allowing people to push you around. How confident are you around your siblings? Do you feel as if they are superior to you? Being assertive and standing up for yourself could cause a complete reset in your sibling’s mind about you. If you keep letting it slide and slink away, it could continue. If you tell them outwardly, you don’t appreciate it or give them a taste of their own medicine, they may back down and leave you be. 

7. Be prepared ahead of time when a meet-up is planned.

Are you sometimes caught off guard when your sibling bullies you? If your sibling bullies you with cruel comments and insults, make sure you are fully prepared with what you will say before heading to the meet-up. Try to make sure that you don’t stoop to their level, but keep the comments witty and light or have a new topic of conversation lined up to deflect from the situation. 

8. Protect yourself.

The best way to avoid getting hurt and being a victim of bullying is to put some time and effort into protecting yourself. Practice self-care so that you feel fine about yourself. Consider attending assertiveness or confidences seminars and avoid scenarios when your sibling’s bullying is at its worst (for some bullies, a large gathering is a prime time for bullying).

9. Try to spend one-on-one time together.

How much time do you spend with your sibling? Are you always in a group environment? Do you even really know each other? Sometimes siblings bully each other because they have deep-seated jealousy or resentment. Spending one on one time together will provide you with the opportunity to bond or get to know each other better. Once you have common ground, you can work on your relationship.

10. Ignore it.

Sometimes reacting to bullying is what keeps the cycle going. One way of dealing with adult sibling bullying is to simply ignore it, especially if the bullying is of a verbal nature. By simply ignoring the comments, you get to continue living your life without drama. However, if the words really do hurt you, you will need to eventually deal with the problem head-on.

11. Establish boundaries.

Do you have boundaries in place for your family? You should! If your siblings don’t understand what the boundaries are in your life, they may cross them and bully you. Show your bullying sibling that you are not okay with the behavior and plan for proper consequences. For instance, if they bully you incessantly, stop inviting them over, or request openly that they stop. 

12. Talk to the family about it.

If one of your siblings is bullying you, you could mention it to your other family members. They may not know about the behavior or not know that it is upsetting you. Once more family members are aware of it, there’s a greater chance that they will talk to your sibling about it or communicate that it’s unacceptable. 

13. Take a close friend along to your next meet-up to help bring the issue to light. 

Confiding in a close friend and then taking them along to a meet-up can be a great strategy for putting a bully in their place, even if it is your sibling. Take a close friend along with you the next time you plan to meet up. Hopefully, your friend will stand up for you or mention that the bullying is ridiculous as it is happening. It might just have a positive impact to hear it from an external source. 

14. Work on your reaction to the bullying.

How you react to a bully will often spur on the future behavior or stop it dead in its tracks. If you have an outrageous response or get highly emotional, they might find it entertaining and continue to upset you. Rather keep calm and limit your reaction to the behavior. Show your sibling that you will not allow their bullying to negatively impact your life. 

All in all

Incorporating these coping tips could help you to salvage your sibling relationships. Of course, you need to find a way that’s most comfortable and effective for you personally.

As an adult, being bullied by a sibling can be uncomfortable, upsetting, and embarrassing. Try not to react abruptly and be somewhat rash. Give the situation a lot of thought before you take any steps to rectify the situation. If you are calm, reasonable, and kind, you will hopefully be able to turn the situation around.

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This article was co-authored by our team of in-house and freelance writers, and reviewed by our editors, who share their experiences and knowledge about the "Seven F's of Life".

JC Franco
Editor | + posts

JC Franco is a New York-based editor for Lifevif. He mainly focuses on content about faith, spirituality, personal growth, finance, and sports. He graduated from Mercyhurst University with a Bachelor’s degree in Business, majoring in Marketing. He is a certified tennis instructor who teaches in the New York City Metropolitan area. In terms of finance, he has passed the Level I exam of the CFA program.