As a parent, it is your responsibility to protect your child from harm. That includes keeping them away from physical harm (such as a hot stove), and psychological harm. One of the most psychologically damaging issues that a child can face is sibling bullying. Sibling bullying is a toxic and unhealthy issue in a family. Some parents confuse sibling bullying with sibling rivalry.
Like all bullying, whether from a sibling or not, sibling bullying can have serious consequences. If it is not ended, it can possibly lead to depression, low self esteem, poor grades, difficulty forming relationships and more. In addition, the bully him/herself is often dealing with emotional issues and can face relationship challenges and other problems in the future. It is not healthy for anyone.
It can be difficult to determine if a behavior is sibling bullying or sibling rivalry. As a general rule, it is sibling rivalry if it is competitive in nature, an argument over an object, or feelings of jealousy. For example, fighting over a toy or the front seat is sibling rivalry. Arguing over who is the best soccer player is sibling rivalry.
Sibling bullying is different from sibling rivalry in that it’s main purpose is to hurt the other child. Name-calling, such as calling the child “stupid”, “fat”, or “ugly” fall under the category of sibling bullying. Speaking negatively about the sibling’s future is sibling bullying. This can include saying “No one will ever want to marry you”, and “I bet you’ll come in last at the track meet because you’re so fat and slow’ and other harmful predictions. Any type of insult or put-down is sibling bullying.
One quick way to determine if it is sibling bullying is if it involves a victim. Now, of course, there are some harmless pranks that are not necessarily bullying. But, if the other child says or does something with the intention to hurt the child, it is sibling bullying.
Sibling bullying can also involve physical actions that hurt. This includes hitting, pulling hair, scratching and kicking. Parents should never tolerate this type of behavior, regardless of the reason for the fight.
Sibling bullying can also include two or more siblings hurting the other sibling together. This can be behaviors such as preventing him/her for having access to the bathroom, stealing his/her objects, and destroying possessions such as a teddy bear.
Threats are also considered to be sibling bullying. For example, if a child says, “I will beat your lights out!” or “I’ll make sure you have no more friends!”, that is definitely sibling bullying.
Sibling bullying can also come in cyber-bullying form. For example, a sibling could take embarrassing photos of his/her sister while sleeping and them post them on Facebook. Or, he/she could spread rumors about him/her through e-mail.
Parents must intervene with all types of sibling bullying. Some have the attitude with their teens, “I’m not gonna get in the middle of it, y’all need to work it out!” This philosophy offers no benefits to either child. Some parents will tell a child that they are “tattle-telling” on the other sibling if they come to them for help. And, some moms or dads will say ‘Well, you do it to her too!” Even if the victim of sibling bullying also bullies the other child, it should never, ever be tolerated.
Sibling bullying can lead to moderate to severe problems for the victim. While many children who experience sibling bullying will grow up to be normal, well-adjusted adults, some will face mental health issues. This can include depression, social anxiety and anger management problems. Sibling bullying can even lead to thoughts of suicide. This has, sadly, been one of the consequences of some non-sibling bullying cases. Read this article about a case that lead to suicide.
If you witness sibling bullying in your household, its important to take some steps to stop and prevent it. It could be as simple as a short chat with the bully, or as extensive as weekly counseling sessions with a trained therapist. It is your job to protect your child from any type of danger or harm. Do not ignore this responsibility. Please read “How to Prevent and Reduce Sibling Rivalry” for some tips that can also be applies to sibling bullying.
Want more parenting advice? Take a look at “7 Random Parenting Tips and Advice” for some additional insight. You might also read “Stress Relief Tips for Moms” and “Top Websites for Moms: Find Support and Resources Online.” If you are a step-parent please read “15 Tips for Stepmoms: How to Handle Problems with Stepchildren.” Happy Parenting!
Source: Personal Experience