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Sibling Rivalry

Probably nothing upsets parents more on a daily basis than the constant bickering and fighting that goes on between children within the family. Some degree of rivalry and conflict is to be expected among siblings and is actually considered a normal part of growth. Children are learning to get along with others and this includes their brothers and sisters.

Sibling rivalry, a common issue faced by most parents, has been around as long as there have been brothers and sisters. Sibling rivalry is competition between siblings for the love, affection, and attention of one or both parents or for other recognition or gain. As close as siblings can be, they can also be fierce enemies. It is common for siblings to be playing peacefully one moment and arguing or fighting the next. Siblings learn to interact and get along with others by first learning how to live peacefully with a sibling. A child who has siblings is taught from first-hand experience how to see another individual’s point of view, how to settle disputes, how to compromise and how to show affection and not hold a grudge.

One of the most common causes of sibling rivalry tends to be jealousy. Jealousy can cause sibling rivalry when a child may feel that they are not getting equal amounts of parental attention. While it is often true that a parent may be in some ways closer to one of their children than another, it is important for a parent to make sure that all of their children feel loved, and get the attention that they need.

Sibling rivalry can also be caused by proximity in age. If you have children who are close together in age, it could fuel sibling rivalry. This is because you will have to give the children each the same kind of attention. This makes it easier for them to compare the care you give each, and find subtle differences. Parents can manage rivalry between children by:

  • Making sure each child is given plenty of love
  • Spending enough individual time with each child
  • Avoiding comparisons
  • Listening to both sides of the story
  • Not dismissing one child’s feelings over another’s
  • Trying to let the children work it out themselves
  • Praising your children when they play well together

Sibling rivalry won’t go away; but teaching our children the tools of inner balance helps to smooth sibling rivalry’s impact on relationships, turning brothers and sisters into lifelong friends.