Sibling Rivalry

Sibling Rivaly: Problems Between Siblings

Sibling rivalry can be looked at as good and bad. There are times where sibling rivalry allows for a youth to work harder to try to follow in their sibling’s shoes. It can be bad when children are constantly fighting each other over who is better and what they are better at. Sibling rivalry is common and is nothing to worry about in moderation. It is a cause for concern when siblings hate each other and cannot handle the simplest of tasks without a fight.

Sibling rivalry is not only limited to humans. I have been a witness to sibling rivalry in dogs. The dogs are brothers and usually are able to keep things civil between each other. Every once in a while one dog will start biting the other dog’s ankles and barking at him. Sometimes this is play and sometimes you can tell the brothers are truly mad at each other.

Sibling rivalry is defined as when brothers and sisters fight each other. The reasons vary for why the youth fight each other. This rivalry starts when an older child has a baby sibling. The older child gets mad at the young child because they feel the younger child is getting more attention. As the children grow their needs will differ a bit. One child may spend more time doing one thing and the other child feeling neglected gets mad at their sibling and starts a fight. Some of the fights can be downright nasty with lots of aggression or hurtful words being tossed around freely. Some children fight because their personalities vary and one is too quiet and one is louder or because one is easy going and the other one tends to be more conflicted. Some parents outwardly favor a child and this can cause conflict between siblings when they see such favoritism toward the one sibling.

As a parent it may be difficult to decide what to do when a conflict arises between siblings. Some parents may let a fight run its course and not intervene at all. Some parents may stop the fight quickly and have the children make up for the fight.

Professional advice states to let the children fight and if the fight gets to be risky or out of hand, it is time for the parents to put a stop to the fight. One can teach their children appropriate words to use when mad. As a Social Worker I have taught children to use “I” statements where the child states for example, I feel mad when you yell at me, or something to that extent. The “I” statement may avoid a fight and allow for the siblings to communicate rather than fighting. For the most part sibling rivalry is inevitable and should be something parents are prepared to handle if necessary.

If siblings fight all the time and are unable to stop the behavior it may be time for an intervention. Counseling is appropriate when children constantly fight over every little matter and it causes a significant amount of stress in the home.


Author: ParentingMaven

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