Children crave attention and approval from their parents. So it is no surprise that problems can arise between siblings when both (or more) children are striving for the same goal. Children also have no choice in their siblings. Personalities and interests may not mesh (and even when they do) being with anyone for large amounts of time can create difficulties. Sibling rivalry between children is a problem commonly confronted in parenthood. Many reasons exist as to why sibling rivalry develops, and there are many ways parents can address sibling rivalry and help prevent extreme problems.
Reasons Sibling Rivalry Exists
Siblings, although closely related, may exhibit opposite temperaments and personalities. Aspects of each child’s temperament may clash with one another. Parts of each child’s personality may also mesh or clash with their parents’ personalities as well. Children may be jealous of the similarities their siblings share with parents that they may not share.
Each child has their own set of needs. Parents can not treat each of their children exactly the same when every child is different. Siblings, although each getting attention and their needs met in their own way, may be resentful of the way a parent fulfills a sibling’s needs.
Siblings may exhibit rivalry when they believe their parents express favoritism between their children. Perceived favoritism between siblings can exist for many reasons and motivate sibling rivalry even when parents are not choosing favorites among their children.
Children, beyond having many different personalities and temperaments, also possess different skills and talents. Sibling rivalry can exist when a child is jealous of their sibling’s ability to play sports, achievement of good grades, or physical appearance among many other possibilities.
What Parents Can Do About Sibling Rivalry
Rules parents enforce for their children need to be consistent. This does not mean the rules need to the same for each child. Older children may have more freedoms and abilities that their younger siblings will gain when they reach a certain milestone. The key is to maintain the same standards for each child so all siblings are treated fairly and consistently.
Do Not Exhibit Favoritism
Beyond creating sibling rivalry, when parents exhibit favoritism between children it can lead to problems in adulthood for the slighted child. Depression has been linked to siblings who were not their parents “favorite.” Parents may have more in common with one child, or their personalities may mesh more, but it is extremely important not to exhibit favoritism between siblings. Parents should also avoid making comparisons between siblings to reduce sibling rivalry. Each sibling deserves to be treated fairly!
Sibling rivalry can be controlled when a family engages in many fun activities together. A family spending time together and enjoying each other’s company can ease fears and competition between siblings. Parents should also carve out individual time for each child. When siblings are all receiving meaningful individual attention, it can ease sibling rivalry.
Abundance of Love
Parents can help to prevent sibling rivalry by being very generous with their love. Although each of their children possess different personalities and needs, parents need to represent their abundance of love to each child. Sibling rivalry will be less prevalent when siblings are all comfortable and confident in their parent’s unconditional love.
Siblings often have complicated relationships, switching from wonderful friends one second to each others’ nemesis the next. Not all sibling rivalry and fighting will be able to be prevented and part of these arguments and disputes between siblings is an aspect of growing up. Siblings, although experiencing rivalry, still have a good chance of developing a strong bond and establishing a close relationship by working through and overcoming their differences. It is important for parents to ensure they are doing their part to prevent and discourage sibling rivalry by communicating and interacting with their children consistently, fairly, and with an abundance of love.
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