The sibling bond can be complicated since they generally spend more time together during childhood than they do with their parents. Sibling rivalry can be particularly intense when the children are very close in age and of the same gender.
Although bickering between siblings can drive parents crazy, sibling rivalry is a normal part of growing up. Parents must create an equal balance of when to step in and play referee and when to let their kids work out their problems themselves.
Below are some of the common reasons for sibling rivalry:
- Attention – Children are always vying for their parents’ attention. These days, parents are busier than ever and their attention on work or a new baby may cause less of a focus on each child. Children may act out and misbehave to get attention.
- Sharing – With limited resources, siblings may have to share at least some of their possessions. Game systems, iPad’s or electronic items can be hard to share and require children to compartmentalize their time on each item.
- Personality Differences – Some children are headstrong while others can be quieter and more introverted. Differences in temperament can lead to clashes.
- Fairness issues – Children are always demanding fairness and equality and fighting for what they perceive are their natural born rights. A younger sibling might complain that her older sister gets to go to a concert and she has to stay home, while the older sister whines that she has to baby-sit her little sister instead of going out with her friends.
Your responsibility as a parent is to help your kids to learn to manage the feelings that come along with sibling rivalry. So, how can you stop the bickering? As a parent, you may have to indulge each child once in a while. Make the effort to spend “just us” time with your children and speak to them about tolerance and the benefits of being part of a family. Each child has their own unique strong points. Identify how those positive characteristics could cause them to become a role model to the other siblings.
Be sure not to confuse bullying with normal sibling rivalry. If one of your children bullies his/her siblings and has to be the boss and control the others to the point of getting physical, you will have to determine the difference, especially if there is aggression over and above the bickering.
In most instances of sibling rivalry, approach all situations with a level head and a firm stance on a standard of respect that is expected in your home. Live the model you would like them to emulate.
All content of this newsletter is intended for general information purposes only and is not intended or implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Please consult a medical professional before adopting any of the suggestions on this page. You must never disregard professional medical advice or delay seeking medical treatment based upon any content of this newsletter. PROMPTLY CONSULT YOUR PHYSICIAN OR CALL 911 IF YOU BELIEVE YOU HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY.