15 Ways To Deal/Cope With Adult Sibling Rivalry (Envy, Stress,…) 

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

Being an adult and still dealing with sibling rivalry can be tiring at the best of times. If there’s a rivalry between you and your brothers or sisters, and your teen years have long since passed, you need to learn a few coping mechanisms, so that you can deal with it head-on (and in a healthy way). Remember that you are dealing with someone who has real feelings and emotions too. As we get older, we tend to see our siblings as just “siblings”, and tend to overlook their sensitivities and emotions as real people. 

If you really want to solve the problem of adult sibling rivalry between you and your brother or sister, it’s time to do the work. Below, we’ll take a look at several ways in which you can deal with sibling rivalry during adulthood

How to deal with adult sibling rivalry – 15 ways to consider:

1. Break free from the shackles of your past together (childhood).

Childhood is a breeding ground for jealousy and sibling rivalry. Many children with issues that they have never dealt with can continue with rivalry behavior in adulthood. If you notice that the behavior just simply never ends, try to break free from the problems you might have had with each other in the past. If there are issues from your childhood that you know of, try to put them to rest and apologize if you need to.

2. Tell them everything you admired about them growing up. 

Sometimes sibling rivalry stems from jealousy. Your sibling might not even know that they are doing it outwardly. You can try and quell these feelings by letting them know just how admired they were in their childhood and how much you looked up to them or wanted to be like them. A little bit of praise can really go a long way. 

3. Implement a “water off a duck’s back” approach.

Sometimes reacting to behavior serves no good purpose. On most occasions, simply ignore it. Start living your life with the “water off a duck’s back” mindset. Don’t let every little comment or behavior upset you. Chances are that your sibling is feeling worse than you are anyway. 

4. Don’t obsess over it – live your life. 

If you are experiencing adult sibling rivalry, don’t let it become a primary focus in your life. It is something that is just happening to you; it is not your entire life. Try to give it only some of your attention. Make sure that you still have a focus on other valuable things. 

5. Get to the root of the rivalry problem.

Have you ever taken the time to consider what might be causing the sibling rivalry? Think about it…Trying to actually understand why there is a rivalry between you and your sibling is essential. You might be tempted to try to overlook it, but if you can do a bit of digging and find out if there’s a way to put the problems to rest, it really can save your long-term relationship. 

6. Consider your part to play. 

Do you perhaps give your sibling a reason to feel rivalry between you two? Do you tease each other? Do you hog time with your parents? Do you flaunt every success and triumph you have in life, even when your sibling is going through a rough patch? Try to see if you play a role in any ill feelings between you and your sibling. If you can, try to change your behavior a bit to make the relationship easier. 

7. Don’t compare – work on your own relationship with your parents. 

A lot of sibling rivalry stems from the attention they get from their parents (or lack thereof). If you feel as if your sibling is getting more attention from your parents, you might be tempted to act out. This happens well into adulthood in many cases. The best thing to do is to stop looking at your sibling’s relationship with your parent. Instead, focus on developing your own relationship. It is not a competition.

8. Try to include your sibling more. 

Do you find yourself excluding your sibling from things because of your feelings? The closer you get to your sibling, the easier it will be to put old differences aside and mature and grow your relationship. One of the best ways to do this is to include your sibling more. Ask to meet for lunch during the week and invite them to your family gatherings. Welcome them with open arms.  

9. Have a heart-to-heart with your sibling.

Sometimes the best thing you can do with sibling rivalry is to face it head-on. Create a situation where you can have a heart-to-heart with your sibling. Tell them how you truly feel about the rivalry between you two. Talking openly about it could help both of you move on and deepen your relationship. 

10. Could it really be you? Think about it!

Here’s something to think about; could it be you and not your sibling acting out? Perhaps you think it is your sibling’s fault that there’s a weird vibe between you two, but what if they think it is you that seems to have a problem. Make sure that you take a long hard look at how you are treating your sibling. Perhaps they are merely reacting. 

11. Have a word with your parents and other siblings.

If the rivalry between you and one sibling feels like it is getting out of hand, take the time to have a chat with your parents and other siblings. Don’t gossip or make a big deal about it. Simply tell them how it is making you feel, and perhaps they can actually help.

12. Be more accepting of differences (don’t push things).

One thing that you need to accept is that people are different. Your sibling is very different from you, and that could be the reason why you don’t get along sometimes. Be prepared to accept that you are different people and don’t try to push yourself or opinions onto your sibling. The more you accept them for who they are, the less need there will be for rivalry. 

13. Try to connect on common ground or mutual interests. 

Do you have anything in common with your sibling? Common ground can be quite miraculous when trying to repair a relationship. Sometimes not focusing on the problem can help. Instead of focusing on how different you are and how much rivalry you have, focus on what you have in common. 

Find a mutual interest and get involved in that together. Try to interest your sibling in activities that you both might like. If you find a way to connect better, you might be able to let go of the rivalry. 

14. Spend more time with your siblings as a family. 

How much time do you and your sibling spend with your other siblings or your parents together? If the answer is none, then that could be part of the problem. Sometimes rivalry sneaks into a sibling relationship when they spend time separately with individual members of the family. Try to incorporate more family time where all of your siblings spend time together. Give each other a chance to connect more. 

15. Limit your time together.

If the sibling rivalry is making life uncomfortable, maybe it’s time to focus on your own life for a bit. Limit the amount of time you spend with your sibling so that you can avoid uncomfortable encounters. 

Last word

Dealing with adult sibling rivalry can be uncomfortable, to say the least. If your life is still plagued with sibling rivalry in adulthood, take the above steps to change the relationship between you and your sibling. Sometimes all it takes is a little time and understanding to bring about a positive change.

JC Franco

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.