You can choose your friends, but you can’t choose your family. If you come from a larger family, there’s a good chance that one of your siblings drives you crazy. In fact, unless you’re an only child there’s a good chance that your sibling drives you crazy at one time or another.

Even with the best of relationships, sibling bonds can be challenging to manage at times. Sibling rivalry is experienced by up to a third of families with more than one child. It’s a very real thing and for many it can be a very destructive and painful force.

But it doesn’t have to be. If your siblings are driving you crazy there are many things you can do to make the situation better – for both of you.

Help! My Siblings are Driving Me Crazy

  1. Talk it out – If you still live at home with your sibling it is necessary to try to work things out. The best way to work things out is to sit down and listen to each other. Your sister may not realize your bossiness is because you are trying to look out for her well being. On the other hand, you may not realized that your little brother tags along because he just wants to be like you. If you and your siblings are grown adults living on your own it can still be beneficial to talk things out. Let your brother or sister know that you love them, but their behavior is causing you discomfort and that you would like to make things better together.
  2. Maintain a healthy attitude – You control your emotions, not your sibling. They may do things that are irritating or annoying, but you are in charge of how you react to it. Don’t react to their shenanigans and understand that you don’t have control over the way they behave. Toss it up to something out of your control and move on.
  3. Maintain healthy boundaries – If you live with your sibling still this can be difficult, especially if you still share a room. If possible ask your parents if you can have separate rooms. If you’re adults and no longer live together then setting up boundaries is much easier. The word “no” is a great way to establish boundaries. Don’t feel forced into doing something for a sibling because they ask or because your parents ask. Only do these things because you want to.
  4. Step out of your role – As members of a family unit we all have a role to play. One is usually responsible, another is the troublemaker and there’s usually one who is bossy. As adults you are not required to maintain any of those roles. You’re brother doesn’t get to tell you what to do anymore than some stranger on the street would. Don’t fall back into the role you played as a child. This can be threatening to older siblings who expect younger siblings to react and respond in the traditional manner, so don’t be surprised if their reaction is dramatic. Don’t worry, they’ll get over it eventually.
  5. Take the high road – Because you were children together, it can be very easy to participate in extremely immature behavior. Don’t fall into that trap. Avoid name calling and telling on the sibling to mom or dad. You’re an adult now, act like it.

Managing a sibling relationship can be painfully difficult especially as parents get older and need more and more care. If you need help with a difficult sibling relationship, family counseling can be very beneficial at any age. If you’re looking for a family therapist in San Francisco please call me at (650) 400-3214, there is help.