Elementary Schoolers
Bullies & Cyber Bullying
Behavior Problems
Classroom-Student Behavior
Extracurricular Activities
Internet & Technology
Kids Health & Safety
Parenting Styles & Skills
Peer Pressure
Positive Discipline
Sibling Rivalry
Sleepovers & Bedtime

You Pay More Attention to My Brother!

Is it possible to live under the same roof and never have sibling rivalry? Most parents would agree it is very normal to have moments of sibling conflict. Why does a rivalry get set up and what is a parent to do about it when they see it surfacing between their own children?

Sibling Rivalary - The Why

Kids within a family system create their own story line of the differential treatment they receive from their parents. These belief systems or story lines can be carried on into adulthood. In general, siblings have separate needs that requires acknowledgment from their parents. They each want to be heard, seen and considered independently of their siblings. They want their individual identities to be taken into account and valued by their parents. For instance, one child may feel inadequate if they aren't as athletic as their brother. Their inadequacy will be reinforced if the parents show more interest in the sibling who plays sports. Competition gets set up very easily between siblings. Because kids are vying for their parents attention and love, they can become approval seeking missiles. If one sibling is getting consistent recognition, the other will feel left out of the mix. This will be a perfect formula for setting up sibling rivalry..

Sibling Rivalry Conflict Resolution Strategy:

  • Be aware of birth order. Some parents treat their kids differently based on birth order. The first born is the responsible one and the baby of the family typically gets more freedom or allowances for bad behavior. If kids feel restricted because of their birth order, resentment and rivlary is bound to simmer between siblings.
  • Watch out for labels - Be careful not to label your kids. If you call one child "the intelligent one" and the other "the clown," this will surely set up inadequacies or competition between the siblings.
  • Make each child feel important. Don't play favoritism. Let each child experience they are a favorite by discussing each of their unique qualities. Be sure to explain you have enough love for each child because it flows endlessly.
  • Stay out of arguments and encourage positive connection. First acknowledge their different temperaments and help them see the best in each other. Discuss how their relationship will be one of the longest standing relationships they'll have, so treat it with respect.
  • Mediate when necessary. Get them involved in working out their problems. If resolution is impossible they both suffer the consequences. This helps parents avoid taking sides, which only reinforces rivalry.
  • Teach them life isn't consistently fair and everything is not always 50-50. This will encourage flexibility and help them understand fairness isn't a requirement to get along.
  • Encourage separateness. Having their own space, friends, toys and time with parents is okay. Siblings need time apart. Separateness encourages individuality and when they reconvene it can be easier to appreciate each other.
  • Influence them to care about each other. It is difficult to torture your sibling when you like them. Explain they are part of the family's team and need to act accordingly.
  • Take time for yourself to recharge and refuel. Dealing with sibling rivalry and conflict is taxing emotionally and mentally. Talk with a parent coach or family counselor to get tips to help.
  • Get help if sibling rivalry gets out of control. If your kids are physically hurting one another, damaging self-esteem or creating marital or family disruptions, it is time to seek outside help.