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Effects of Sibling Comparison or Differential Parental Treatment on Children -Dealing with Sibling Rivalry

Updated on June 13, 2017
Anamika S profile image

Anamika S. Jain has been a social media consultant for six years. She has written more than 200 articles on relationships and dating.

Sibling Comparison or Differential Parental Treatment Effects on Children
Sibling Comparison or Differential Parental Treatment Effects on Children

Handling Conflicts and Rivalry among Children

Many Parents knowingly or unknowingly do the mistake of sibling comparison without thinking of the effects it could have on their children. Most Parents have no idea how to resolve conflicts between siblings. Many of us as kids have been victims of differential parental treatment. As someone who had been treated differently from my younger brother by my parents I nurtured feelings of jealousy, anger and hatred towards my parents and brother when I was young. Though I made amends on a later stage the mistakes I committed because of that almost ruined my life.

As Parents, it is very important to devote equal time and attention to children and not shower all affection just on one particular child to avoid jealousy among siblings. The children should know and feel that the Parents love them and care for them.

Effects of Sibling Comparison on Children - Dealing with Rivalry and Jealousy among Kids

Many Parents knowingly or unknowingly do the mistake of sibling comparison without thinking of the effects it could have on their children and many of us as kids have been victims of differential parental treatment. As someone who had been treated differently from my younger brother by my parents I nurtured feelings of jealousy, anger and hatred towards my parents and brother when I was young. Though I made amends on a later stage the mistakes I committed because of that almost ruined my life.

In Chand Chupa Badal Mein, a Hindi Serial by Rajan Shahi, we get to see the effects of sibling comparison and differential parental treatment on a younger sibling that he turns a rebel and seeks revenge on his elder brother and family who caused him pain as a child. Though that is a reel life story I have seen and heard many similar real life stories where the victims life got affected because of the treatment they have received as a child. Recently I met the Brother of a very close friend of mine and I thought that he was very sweet and nice. I also noticed that my friend was not much close to her Brother who literally seemed to adore her. On my talk with her she admitted that she has always hated her brother because her parents always seemed to have a different set of rules for her and him. She admitted that as a kid she always used to feel jealous, neglected and inferior because of the special treatment her Brother received from her father and mother. Though my friend has no problem with him now, she does not share a strong bonding with her sibling.

Every child is unique and different. As a child he or she has both positive and negatives. It is not wrong if a Parent compares the child to show his or her mistakes but it should be done in such a manner that he or she does not feel inferior. Many parents not only do sibling comparison but also with peers. Somehow, many kids are able to tolerate outer comparison much better than that is done at home. Many times sibling comparison and differential parental treatment affect the kids and hurt them so badly that they grow up feeling worthless and neglected. Many such victims of Bad Parenting lose their self confidence or they get indulge in many harmful activities like taking drugs, stealing, cheating, killing or many other things. Many Parents as a part of their disciplining efforts call their children ‘bad’ and ‘useless’ even in front of others without realizing that it may encourage the child to be really bad and useless. I remember a mail received from a 15 year old girl who was beaten up black and blue by her Indian Parents who told her that she was bad and characterless after they saw her talking to her friend’s brother. She wrote to me that ‘They called me bad and characterless when I did nothing wrong – so I thought why not be really bad?’ She went into a revenge mode by sleeping with a stranger. But after she did it she felt guilty and to add to her troubles she even got pregnant making her parents add more fuel to the fire. Why I narrated this incident is to tell that one has to be very tactful when dealing with children and one wrong move could spoil everything. This girl could have been dealt differently by her parents but instead they chose to insult and abuse her without even hearing what she had to say. Parents should show children where they are right and where they are wrong but it should be done in a tactful manner. A child’s mind is very sensitive and what he or she goes through in childhood can have a lasting impression on their minds even after they grow up. Putting down a child in front of another can cause them to consider the other as competitor or enemy. Too much affection and praises for one child and screaming and shouting for the other sibling is definitely not an example of Good Parenting. It is very important to give a fair treatment to kids when you have more than one child so that sibling rivalry is not created.

Parents should treat each child as an individual and do not make the mistake of ignoring children or not dealing with their problems.Still many Parents do sibling comparison because of their misguided thinking that it is a good way to motivate kids or set them right. But in reality, children often feel less motivated than ever. Many children when they feel that they cannot live up to their siblings accomplishment, stop trying to better themselves. Pampering a younger child in front of the older or vice versa can lead to insecurity in the child so it is important to strike the right balance. It is noticed that elder kids are mostly treated strictly by Parents and asked to be responsible and forget and forgive the mistakes of the younger one which can make the elder one feel that the Parents does not care for him or her as much as the sibling causing rivalry and rift between siblings. So it is better to eliminate comparisons between siblings and create an effective communication with them as individuals by dealing with them separately. Every parent has to think the way they are handling their children and remember that their behavior can affect the future of the children.

Is there anything I have left out? Have you been a victim of Sibling Comparison or Differential Parental Treatment? If yes, how did it affect you? Feel free to share your views and experiences by way of comments.


Submit a Comment
  • cheerfulnuts profile image


    9 years ago from Manila, Philippines

    Parents may love their kids DIFFERENTLY, as each of their child is unique and has his/her own special needs. Despite having different kids, parents should still love them EQUALLY. Thank you for this nice hub!

  • Ashley Anne profile image

    Ashley Esmacher 

    9 years ago from Virginia

    Great article! So Informative!

  • Aqsa65 profile image


    9 years ago from Karachi pakistan

    owsome article useful

  • Rastamermaid profile image


    9 years ago from Universe

    Great hub!

    I identify with this hub,when I was raised there were different rules for boys and girls and it was understood.My brothers limitation were not as strict as mine.

    I also knew it was nothing that I did wrong it wasn't punishment it was just life.

    If explained well it leaves no marks.Just a knowing that your parents cared enough to look after you.

  • dallas93444 profile image

    Dallas W Thompson 

    9 years ago from Bakersfield, CA

    Great article. Thumbs up and useful!

  • bingskee profile image


    9 years ago from Quezon City, Philippines

    each child has a need different to his or her siblings. that is why parents must afford the need in accordance to what a particular child needs. if it is time, then give the child time. if it is attention, then give him attention. and so on.

    parents should be educated, too, about sibling rivalry. i hope a lot of parents are reading this.

  • profile image

    Marcella Glenn 

    9 years ago from PA

    It's a delicate balance that should be practiced when it comes to siblings, favoritism.

  • DeBorrah K. Ogans profile image

    DeBorrah K Ogans 

    9 years ago

    Animika, Very interesting hub! There is much truth to the fact parents can fuel sibling rivalry by being partial to one child over the other... Each child is unique and their temperaments vary! However, each one still needs to be loved and encouraged! It is the responsibility of the parents to help each child feel secure...

    Thank You for sharing, Peace & Blessings!

  • Reynold Jay profile image

    Reynold Jay 

    9 years ago from Saginaw, Michigan

    This was very well done. Useful and up one. I was a teacher for 33 years and saw many words of wisdom here today. RJ

  • H P Roychoudhury profile image

    H P Roychoudhury 

    9 years ago from Guwahati, India

    Yes, it is great subject how to deal with children at their tender age. Parents have a responsibility to train themselves mentally before hand.


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