Tuesday, February 22

Sibling Rivalry and How to Deal With it

Sibling rivalry is the intense feelings of competition and jealousy that sometimes characterise the relationships of brothers and sisters. Would it be too far off the mark to suggest that these feelings are often inadvertently caused by parents themselves? While parents do not go all out to promote rivalry between siblings, often it is their passing comments and acts of omission that cause a child to see a sibling as a rival.

sibling rivalry in childrearing

Parents may, often inadvertently, lean towards one of their children due to various reasons. This could be because this child is especially gifted and brings them unlimited bragging rights, or because this child is particularly well-behaved when compared to an unruly sibling.

It could even be because the father or mother sees themselves in one child as opposed to the other who does not resemble them at all. In fact, if the parents have feelings of animosity towards each other, their relationship with the child who resembles the hated spouse would be an extension of their attitude towards him or her. This does not have to be a conscious decision. It would take a very evolved human being to keep his or her prejudice in check when dealing with such a situation.

What Parents Can Do About Sibling Rivalry

Parents need to be aware of their parenting styles and its impact on rivalry between siblings. If they find they are constantly having to correct, put down, or punish a particular child more than his or her siblings, it would be a good idea to step back and evaluate the situation. They need to honestly ask themselves whether they are being a little too quick to judge and condemn. And if so, why? Is it because the child is really at fault or is it just an assumption?

Often there would be a black sheep in the family on whom the needle of suspicion falls automatically the minute a loud crash or sickening thud echoes across the home. Unfortunately the onus of having to prove his innocence falls on this kid, while the real perpetrator might be let off easy due to his squeaky clean record.

sibling rivalry may be caused by parents

Parents could also refrain from always praising one child at the cost of the other. While it may be true that one child may be more gifted and brings home the trophies while the other is always getting detention, it is up to them to find something to praise in the less gifted child and give him his quota of fame and appreciation. In fact, it is this child who needs more of your attention and encouragement. It is up to the parents to correct the balance so the child is not driven to feelings of inadequacy and hence the need to compete for your love and attention.

Sibling rivalry can also be triggered when parents compare their kids' achievements and behaviour. The constant Why can't you be more like your brother rant would be enough to turn siblings against each other. There is nothing more valuable to a little child than the love and appreciation of parents. If they feel this is jeopardized in any way, their whole world turns upside down and they can be seized with feelings of insecurity, unworthiness, and hurt. And they normally zero in on their siblings as the reason for this upheaval.

Sibling rivalry may follow kid into adulthood and take a turn for the worse if not dealt with intelligently by parents. It would not be a wise move to figure that it is a natural part of growing up and that they'll grow right out of it. There is no guarantee that it might be so and chances are it'll make your old age hell to have your kids fight over everything from the size of their cars to who has to pay for your funeral.

All Photographs Courtesy Gracey-morguefile.com

1 comment:

  1. Liz, I simply love that picture. It certainly speaks a thousand words. And yes,I do believe parents can do a lot to stop sibling rivalry from flaring up.


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