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Sibling Rivalry

What is Sibling Rivalry?

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.

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How to Control Sibling Rivalry

While there will be disputes and misunderstandings between siblings, it should not be allowed to get out-of-hand. Parents should try to get to the root of the discord and communicate with their children. Many children fight amongst themselves because they are jealous of each other. A child may feel that their sibling is more favored or loved by the parents. This can lead to animosity, bitterness, unhealthy competition, and low self-esteem. If these thoughts and feelings are not addressed, it can be detrimental to the emotional health of the entire family.

Parents do play an important role in the severity of sibling rivalry. Many parents assume all of their children know how valued and loved they are as individuals. However, parents should make each child feel special and valued for who they are individually. Parents should never make comparisons between children.

Parents should spend equal amounts of alone time with each child, without the other siblings present, whenever possible. Parents can take turns having special “dates” with the child. If this is not possible, simply talking with each child individually for a few minutes before bedtime can go a long way in making them feel special.

Parents should never appear to be taking sides when siblings argue. Parents should try to stay removed from any arguing, and only step in when the physical safety of a child is threatened, or if the children are becoming verbally abusive to each other. Punishment should be done privately, and a child should never be punished in front of their siblings.

Parents should encourage their children to talk, and equal time should be given to each child to state their positions. Children should learn that is normal to disagree with each other, however inflicting physical or emotional pain on each other is not acceptable.

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