Simply put sibling rivalry is the feeling of enmity, jealousy or the competition between siblings (all permutations and combinations of brother and sister plus cousins)! Sibling rivalry usually starts after the birth of the second child but if first child is grown up may start with mother’s pregnancy as well.
This is one of areas where a parent(s) can be accused, by one of the kids, of taking sides / favouring another child. Sibling rivalry should never be overlooked by parents as it can wrought major damage to the affected child’s psyche.
Needless to say sibling rivalry arises in the family where there is more than one child. There is a feeling of not being loved (being less loved) by either of the parents as compared to his/her sibling. It may also arise when one of the siblings dominates the ‘victim’ i.e. the meek one. One sibling is bullied by the other leading to the feelings of being victimised and later feeling of depression in the bullied one. They just cannot get along with each other and gradually a feeling of jealousy develops.
Factors that add to sibling rivalry
- Feeling of not being loved or his/her sibling getting all the attention (time) and love from one/ both parents
- Birth of a newborn baby is taken as a threat; more so if parents have not prepared the elder one for the same
- Mother feeding the younger one and leaving elder one to fend for himself/ herself
- Feeling of competition by one of the sibling and to show to the world that he is superior to the other sibling
- Faulty handling, by the parents, of issues between warring siblings
Handling sibling rivalry?
Parents have to accept the fact that sibling rivalry or jealousy between siblings is normal way of life. They have to help the ‘victim’ child to manage the feelings that crop up in him. They have to be stern and educate the bullying child, if one, that whatever he is doing to his sibling is not right.
- Parents should not take sides! Should not favour any child. In case if they are taking sides, inadvertently, they are feeding the sense of victimhood in the ‘victim’. In fact, they should hold both the kids responsible for their action in any conflicting situation.
- They should refrain from becoming the referee and judge as to which child is right and which one is wrong! Instead they should inform both the children about the importance of family and its unity. Good things in each of them should be highlighted, publicly and negativity should only be discussed in private.
- They should not compare one child with his sibling.
- They should teach the children value of cooperation and not encourage competition.
- Kids should be encouraged to share their things and play with each other
- Conduct family meetings and let each one in the family give their opinion on any given issue in the family. Listen to the children’s voices too, they will appreciate that they are being listened!
- Click their pics when they are together (and with a happy smile) and keep it framed in the house.
- Parents should make it a point to be available to the kids, whenever they need! They should spend at least 15 to 20 minutes daily with each of the kids.
Remember each child is different. No two children are similar. So appreciate them for what they are!
Even we won’t like to be reminded ONLY of our deficiencies!