When Siblings Don’t Get Along

Written By Dr. Nima

On April 9, 2024
If you have a sibling,
think of what it was like when you were younger
and got into a conflict with them.
How did your parents react to you?
Taking sides, frustration, shaming, invalidation...
Often not helpful in repair and resolution.
I never really thought about any of this
until Diana and I started noticing
Dominic getting into little scraps back and forth
with his little brother (pictured here) named Magic.
When we imagine creating our family,
including fur babies,
we tend to imagine a reality
where everyone is getting along merrily,
like these two cuties seem to be in these pictures.
But alas, life-- through the lens of social media
is all about FANTASY:
Sharing ONE SIDE of the story.
The truth is:
These two used to duke it out constantly.
And in moments when I'm busy doing something,
hearing the growling and tusling between them,
I would get irritated, my system would get flooded,
and I'd notice how I would lean towards
using blame and invalidation to try to get Dominic
to change his behavior,
so we could finally get this sorted
and live the calm existence I was entitled to living.
I realized had fantasies about my role:
That my job as a parent was to make my kid happy.
That my job as a parent
was to make him get along with his furry sibling.
Once I was able to take a pause and reflect,
and see the let go of those fantasies,
I took on a much more inspiring identity.
When, I lovingly took on being a "Polyvagal Parent,"
I was able to take on some new frameworks,
and things began to shift.
I want to share some of them with you.
Try it on, see how it feels for you.
1) As a Polyvagal Parent, my focus becomes less on my "role" and more on the RELATIONSHIP with my kid.
2) As a Polyvagal Parent, my job becomes to first start with curiosity towards my sons behavior-- and validate and empathize what he's struggling with instead of playing the victim to his emotions and behavior making it mean something about me.
3) As a Polyvagal Parent, I am tasked with teaching Dominic how to work as a team with me as I set boundaries for him and teach him how to regulate his emotions when Magic is annoying him-- AFTER THE RUPTURE-- guiding him into a repair process so he can actually LEARN.
4) As a Polyvagal Parent, before all else, my most important skill I can practice is regulating myself and mastering how to repair with Dominic so that he isn't left by himself to deal with those big emotions.
Once we put some really simple strategies in place, all fights/ruptures resolved in a matter of seconds, and now Dominic has learned better strategies on how to calm his little furry brother down when he's doing the annoying things little brothers do --which frustrate him.
The biggest thing I'm learning here is that my son doesn't need to have a perfect parent.
And I'm not responsible to make sure they always get along.
I couldn't fathom how much growth and inner reflection is involved in raising a healthy soul, but I'm so damn grateful to this kid.
He's inspired me to up-level in every area, especially in my relationship with his mother, which is a post for another day.
The greatest gift we can give our children is a self loving and self-regulated parent who has a secure intimate relationships that model rupture and repair.
This is how we break the cycle.
I'm committed to sharing all the mind-blowing revelations
on my journey with you.
Try these on and tell me how it goes for you.
From my family to yours,
P.S. Tackling the delicate dance of parenting,
particularly when sibling dynamics stir the pot
of household harmony, presents a unique set of challenges and opportunities for growth.
If you're wanting to learn more, the “Connecting to the Anxious Child” workshop on Friday, April 19th from 4-7pm PST
(Saturday, April 20th at 10am in Sydney)
offers a deep dive into becoming a "Polyvagal Parent."
This 3-hour session is tailored to arm you
with the somatic tools needed for nurturing an environment
where every family member, furry or not, feels understood and valued—
without resorting to shame.
As I’ve navigated the journey with Dominic and Magic,
embracing the principles of curiosity,
validation, and team-oriented problem-solving has
created a sense of a home life that feels like a sanctuary,
turning conflicts into moments of connection and learning.
For $30, I get to guide participants in applying these principles,
focusing on your nervous system to foster a cascade of deeper connection within your child.
Discover how to enhance your child’s sense of safety and self-worth,
essential for breaking free from the cycles of shame and insecurity.
You’ll learn how to shift your family’s narrative
and create a legacy of unconditional love and secure attachment.
Notify of
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments

You May Also Like...

Why You Don’t Know What You Want

"It isn't normal to know what we want.It is a rare and difficult psychological achievement.” ― Abraham Maslow   I remember it feeling like a panic in my system.   I was in a crossroads of my life, wondering what’s next, and when someone asked me what I wanted, my...

read more

I realized I Was The Problem

Have you heard the Taylor Swift song “Anti-Hero”?   I remember the first time hearing it and was blown away.   “I’ll stare directly in the sun but never in the mirror” was one of my favorite lines of all time in a song, because it captured what I see so often when...

read more

The Impact Of Your Inner Work On Your Children

Imagine it was 40 years ago. And your parents were about to make an important decision. They were sitting on an opportunity to help them heal a part of themselves. They were on the precipice of deciding if NOW is the time to resolve some of their childhood wounding....

read more