Dealing with anyone who is disrespectful comes with its challenges, but dealing with a disrespectful sibling can be complex.
There is truth in the old adage that blood is thicker than water, and I understand that you want to get along with your siblings for the good of your whole family dynamic.
So, knowing how to deal with disrespectful siblings is incredibly important if you have one or more challenging siblings.
Here are some tips to help you get along without the arguments and fights you’re probably experiencing right now:
How to Deal with Disrespectful Siblings – 15 Tips that Work
1. Set Some Boundaries
One of the most important things you can do with anyone who is being disrespectful, negative, or toxic to you in any way is to set some healthy boundaries.
You don’t have to allow anyone, even your siblings, to treat you in a way that doesn’t feel good.
Start by communicating your feelings and your sibling in a calm and respectful way and letting them know what you will and won’t tolerate going forward.
If they continue to cross your boundaries, you may need to distance yourself from them as painful as that is.
Related – How to set healthy boundaries with in-laws.
2. Be Prepared to Be Patient
If you’re dealing with a disrespectful sibling on a regular basis, it’s important to remember that change won’t happen overnight.
It takes time to unlearn bad habits and to learn how to communicate in a respectful way, so be prepared to be patient as you work on rebuilding your relationship.
As you reinforce boundaries and make it clear to them that you’re not going to be treated poorly, they should start to make changes and adjust.
I can’t tell you if it’ll take weeks, months, or longer, but what I can tell you is that you have to respect yourself and stay strong.
3. Don’t Blame Yourself for Their Behavior
A lot of people who are dealing with disrespectful siblings tend to blame themselves for the way they’re being treated.
They think that if they could just change this one thing or be a better person in some way, then their sibling would start to treat them with respect.
This isn’t true!
Your sibling’s disrespectful behavior is their responsibility, not yours.
No matter how hard you try, you can’t control or change someone else’s behavior.
All you can do is focus on your own behavior and how you’re going to respond to their disrespect.
4. Don’t Gossip About Them Behind Their Backs
One of the worst things you can do when dealing with a disrespectful sibling is to gossip about them behind their backs.
Not only is this petty and draws you into their world, but it will make the situation worse if they find out.
If you have something to say about your sibling, say it to their face.
This will force them to deal with the issue directly and hopefully lead to a more productive conversation.
The last thing you want to do is pull more family members into the situation and make it bigger than it needs to be.
5. Don’t Try and Make Other Family Members Take Sides
Trying to make other family members take sides is another destructive behavior that will only make the situation worse.
As siblings, you should be able to work out your differences without involving other family members.
This is especially true if you have younger siblings who look up to you.
The last thing you want is to create an even bigger divide in your family with members feeling like they need to pick a side.
6. Don’t Feel Bad if You Have to Ignore Them
There will be times when the only way to deal with a disrespectful sibling is to ignore them.
This doesn’t mean you have to cut them out of your life completely, but it does mean that you don’t have to engage with them every time they’re disrespectful.
This always feels bad, especially if you’re the type of person who likes to talk things out and finds ignoring people rude.
But if your sibling is so disrespectful that you feel like you have no other option, ignoring them is what you’ll have to do.
7. Don’t Bite when They’re Trying to Trigger You
There will be times when a disrespectful sibling says or does something specifically to try and trigger you.
Maybe they know what buttons to push and they will use this to their advantage when they’re feeling upset or angry.
The best thing you can do in this situation is to stay calm and not let them get to you.
Biting back will only escalate the situation and make things worse.
The goal is to diffuse the situation, not add fuel to the fire as that’s what they want, to see how angry you can get and try to justify their actions.
8. Try and Get to The Root of Why They’re Disrespectful
Ultimately, there will be a reason why your sibling is being disrespectful to you.
Maybe it’s due to their own insecurities and they’re disrespectful to most people, or they might be just picking on you for some reason.
Whatever the reason, it’s important to try and get to the root of why they’re being disrespectful before you can start to deal with it.
This can be difficult to figure out, but it’s something that you need to at least try and figure out if you want to improve the situation.
9. Have an Open and Honest Conversation with Them About It
The only way you’re going to resolve their issues – if at all – is by speaking with them about what’s going on between the two of you.
This is a tough conversation to have, but it’s absolutely necessary.
You might not get the result you want, but at least you’ll have a better idea of where you stand and they’ll know how you feel.
The better prepared you can be before having a chat the better, and don’t forget to remain calm and not say anything you’ll regret.
10. Use Their Disrespectful Behavior as An Opportunity to Grow as A Person
While it’s never fun to deal with a disrespectful sibling, you can use their behavior as an opportunity to grow as a person.
This situation presents you with an opportunity to learn how to better deal with difficult people and how to handle yourself in tough situations.
I always try to turn negative or challenging situations into personal growth opportunities, and it’s certainly been beneficial to me over the years.
What you don’t want to do is stew on their behavior and hold on to resentment for how they’re making you feel.
That’ll only take a toll on your mental and physical health and hold you back from growing as a person.
11. Don’t Try and Fix Them
This is another frustrating thing that you’re going to have to accept, and it can be tough to accept this with a family member who you care about.
But you’re not responsible for their actions and you can’t fix them, no matter how much you want to.
The best you can do is try and deal with their behavior in the best way possible, but you shouldn’t put your own life on hold in an attempt to fix them.
I get that you care about them and you want to get along for the good of your family dynamic as well as your personal relationship, but there is only so much you can do.
People who are disrespectful need to come to the realization that they’re being rude and understand how their behavior is affecting others.
They then need to want to change how they’re treating others. If they can’t get to this point, they’re probably not going to change.
12. Use Kindness as A Way to Get Back at Them
This might sound counterintuitive, but one of the best ways to handle a disrespectful sibling – for me at least – is with kindness and compassion.
It’s not going to be easy to do this, especially if they’re being particularly disrespectful, but it’s worth a shot.
The goal is to try and catch them off guard with your kindness and to make them realize that their behavior is not having an effect on you.
It’s also a way of showing them that you’re an awesome person and they stand to benefit a lot more by being nice to you than being horrible!
13. Distance Yourself from Them
This is easier said than done if you live with your sibling, but if there is anything you can do to distance yourself from them, you should.
This isn’t the same as ignoring or avoiding them, it’s about putting physical and emotional distance between the two of you.
The fewer interactions you have, the fewer incidents there will be of them acting disrespectfully toward you.
It’s more of a temporary solution, but if you’re easily wound up it’s going to make a huge difference.
14. Call Them Out On Their Behavior if You Have To
If you’ve tried everything else and nothing’s worked, then you might have to call them out on their behavior in front of others.
This is usually a last resort as it can cause a potentially explosive situation, but it’s also a good, direct way to get your point across.
They need to see that you’re not going to tolerate their behavior and you’re willing to confront them in front of others.
If they’re ashamed of how they’re behaving in any way this should make them think twice in the future.
15. Don’t Let It Take up Your Valuable Time!
Most importantly, and I know how difficult this can be, you need to focus on yourself and not let their negative behavior take up too much of your time.
It’s not easy to do this when it feels like they’re constantly disrespecting you, but if you give them too much attention they’re only going to keep doing it.
Remember, they’re not worth your valuable time and energy!
If you feel yourself getting wound up or feeling some resentment towards them when they’re not around, take a step back.
Practice self-care techniques like controlled breathing, meditation, and mindfulness, and do things that you enjoy to take your mind off of them.
I know how upsetting it can be when you don’t get along with a sibling and how it can easily cause wider problems within your family.
But at the end of the day, all you can do is try your best to reconcile and get along with them, they need to play their part too!
Image credits – Photo by Duy Pham on Unsplash
Phil lives in England, UK, and has around 20 years experience as a professional life, career and executive coach. He started this blog to help others find and define their own self development journey. Blogging about a wide range of topics to help facilitate a better future.