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Sibling Rivalry

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A sibling is a secret-keeper, friend within the family and also a competitor whom you have to out-smart to win over your parents. Sibling Rivalry is not irreparable, here’s how parents can help their kids resolve conflicts and retain harmony.

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Human Nature: Competitiveness is human nature as each person wants to achieve their goals and be the best that they can be to live the life of their dreams. This is also found in sibling relationships and these are often fueled by parents, relatives, friends, social circle and even the educational institution they are in.  Apart from academic and professional achievements, siblings often compete with each other to win over acceptance, love, and appreciation from those around them. Petty fights often begin
with which child has better things to wear, whose the parents’ pet v/s
the troublemaker who gets yelled at all the time, and the one who gets ignored while
one gets glorified for being better in every sphere – to name a few instances.

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Order of Birth: Psychological case studies have identified as order of birth being an important trait to understand sibling rivalry. An elder child is most loved and remembered by everyone, is responsible, ambitious, often the one to follow rules and set a standard – often becoming a ‘role model’ for siblings. A middle child on the other hand is pressured and pursues something different or may be rebellious to get attention and be heard, these kids are usually found to be creative, have various interests and can dwindle between careers. The youngest child is often carefree and pampered by parents and siblings and is usually both emotional and stubborn. In contrast, twins are often found to be aligned and telepathically tuned into each other’s frequency and very supportive of each other through life.  Gender also influences the rivalry aspect but mostly, sibling relationships are found to be ‘loving yet argumentative’. Parents can prepare the older child before bringing the new-born into the family and an emotionally sensitive and supportive approach from early childhood years is found to be effective in resolving any problems that could arise in the future.

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Healthy Competition: To resolve conflicts stemming out of rivalry, parents can avoid favoritism and give each child equal amounts of time, attention and unconditional love.  Parents can often help each child excel at their chosen field or be the best they can be by just motivating strengths and help them overcome weaknesses. Talk in the open in a casual family meeting of sorts and let each child know what makes them so unique and special. Nurture their sense of individuality and not praise one child as a role model whose footsteps the other has to follow. Make them see that their sibling is not someone who’s better than them but just good at what they do. So just be focused on personal goals and channel their drive to what they want to become.. Make them feel loved and appreciated irrespective of how well they do at school/college or work as there’s more to life than that.

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Love-hate Relationship: Interestingly, siblings have the same genetic structure, yet abilities between siblings or an only child can differ from that of their parents. The nature & nurture aspect is highly influential in deciding which sibling does better. Hence, a loving approach by parents and those around them that recognizes each child’s unique potential is recommended to help siblings retain the love and camaraderie they share. Love and hate are sides of the same coin and fights between siblings are common – just like any other human relationship! If matters can’t be fixed, it’s better to be tolerant if you’re sharing spaces and parents often get involved to play peacemaker. It’s good to remember to keep things within a family, including past hurts as it eventually reflects on a family’s core foundation and value system if siblings become bitter enemies.

Do you remember how your parents sorted out fights between you and your sibling? Which are the things you’ll fight over? Share your stories with us and get featured on the blog.

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