Sibling rivalry is a natural element in family life. It is an example of a relationship that can either hurt or help the family dynamics. However, when there is sibling rivalry among teens, it becomes a bit more complicated. Younger kids seem to compete with their siblings for the attention of their parents. For teenagers, going against siblings is a means to reaching a self-fulfilling goal and maintaining one’s positive self-esteem.
Take the advice of a college student who has been and will always take part in a sibling rivalry, but who has come to realize that it is a natural part of having siblings. When I was having it out with my sister or brother, there were some things that my parents did that only fueled the rivalry. Here are some tips for parents who are at a lost with what to do when their child is so vehemently competing against his/her sibling.
1. Never compare one teen to another. Never ever say, “If only you did this like your brother/sister did…” or “Why is it that you can’t be like your sister/brother?’ As a parent, you might see this as a motivation for your child, a little encouragement that says, “Anything is possible”. For a daughter or son, when they hear something along those lines, they feel insignificant and unaccomplished. Your child will be painfully aware of the distance between himself and his more accomplished brother or sister.
2. Give your teen individual attention. Parents say that they love all of their children equally, but many times from a teen’s moody and angst-filled perspective, it’s hard to believe. If you’re going to Johnny’s soccer game every Wednesday and disregarding the fact that Mary might need a ride to the mall or just wants time with her Mom or Dad, then clearly, you’re favoring one over the other. Make sure to recognize that each one of your children has unique personality and differing needs.
3. During fights, only intervene when there is absolutely no sign of a draw or if the house is becoming more like a battlefield. Or if someone gets hurt.
4. Don’t talk about your teen to the other child during a sibling rivalry. One, you’re creating a messier situation, especially if the sibling rivalry is already tense. Two, talk to your husband or wife, not your child about your other teen.