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Sibling Rivalry : Signs, Symptoms and Parenting tips to Handle it!

Updated on May 28, 2017
ChitrangadaSharan profile image

Being a parent and teacher,Chitrangada writes with practical understanding and experience about parenting issues and also provides solutions

Sibling Rivalry
Sibling Rivalry | Source

Sibling Rivalry: Can Parents Be Blamed?

© Chitrangada Sharan Jan. 2014

All Rights Reserved.

  • Sibling Rivalry is a very sensitive issue and it can be found in most of the families.
  • If not dealt with properly, the consequences can be very saddening.
  • Needless to say, that Parents love their each and every child equally.
  • In spite of that Sibling Rivalry does exist. And the most upset and saddened by this rivalry is the parents themselves.
  • It can still be managed, when the children are small or younger, but if it continues even when the children are grown up, it can go beyond control.

What is Sibling Rivalry?

Sibling means, children born in the same family or to the same parents. And Sibling Rivalry dates back to ancient times. We can find its shades in epic Mahabharat as well.

Have you seen the Hindi movie 'BLACK' or 'DEEWAR' or many more movies, which have very effectively communicated the dangers of Sibling Rivalry and its consequences on the parents and the family as a whole.

This is rather sad that although, there are so many examples of a healthy and solid bond among Siblings, but the thing that draws our attention the most is if they do not get along well with each other..

What Are The Signs And Symptoms Of Sibling Rivalry?

How to identify that children are having some kind of Rivalry?

Well in a family of brothers and sisters, there can be fights. But that does not mean there is a rivalry among siblings. One moment they fight and the other moment they love each other and play and enjoy with each other.

Most of the children want undivided love and attention by their parents. Rivalry develops, when they compete for the same.

This can be identified as name calling, hitting physically, immature behavior, shouting at each other, throwing tantrums to seek attention and so on.

Sibling Rivalry
Sibling Rivalry | Source

Sibling Rivalry can be tackled by

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The Possible Causes Of Sibling Rivalry:

There can be many causes of this, namely, age, sex, position in the family, that is birth order, above average or mediocre academics, special needs children, general family atmosphere and many more. Let us discuss some of them here:

1. Children With Less Age Difference:

If the age gap is not much in children, there might be competition between them, whether in studies or sports or any other activity.

When they are small, it might be physical fights, but if not handled properly, when they are still young, it might become verbal later on.

2. Children of the same sex or age:

It is but natural that children of the same sex or age get equal opportunity while growing up in a family. As a result, they might develop the same interests or capabilities. But one of them might be slightly better than the other and may get applauded for that by the parents or the teachers.

It is then that the friction starts and it is a real difficult situation for the parents to handle.

3. The Middle Child:

Many examples can be seen, when the middle born does not get the same attention or privileges as the eldest or the youngest child. This makes the middle child sometimes upset, unhappy or an attention seeker.

4. Gifted Child or the Child with Special Needs:

Each child has his/ her own personality, character, Intelligence etc. It is quite natural for a parent to appreciate the achievements of a particular child. It is then that the problem can start. There can be jealousy among the other sibling.

The parent must maintain a balanced approach as every child can not have the same capabilities.

Then there can be other kind of children, who are physically weak or handicapped or poor in studies. The parents are always concerned about them. As a result, the other Normal kids may feel deprived and may become resentful.

5. Different Temperaments Need Different Treatments:

Each child has a different temperament, unique to his own. Therefore all of them can not and should not be handled in the same manner.

There are children who are sensitive and emotional, whereas there are those who are more practical and mature. It is for the parents to identify and deal with them according to their temperament.

Sibling Rivalry
Sibling Rivalry | Source

Can The Parents Be Blamed?

Now for the question that I raised in the beginning. Can the Parents be blamed?

To some extent--Yes!

  • To a great extent, Sibling Rivalry can be managed, if Parents are balanced in their behaviour towards their children.
  • Parents have to consciously and cautiously tackle situations, which might lead to animosity and jealousy among siblings and they can do it very effectively.
  • Children love and listen to their parents, more than anyone else, when they are young. If the parents exhibit a strong bond themselves, the children will be inspired to follow the same.
  • If they see their parents tackling conflicts, difficult situations or disagreements in an amicable and respectful manner, they will definitely learn it and follow this, when they are in a conflicting situation with their siblings.
  • It is advisable to practice what you preach, to avoid rivalries among your kids.
  • Parents must be impartial and should avoid comparisons.
  • One basic factor, which gives rise to Sibling Rivalry is, the desire to get appreciation by the parent. No other praise can be as big as that for the child.
  • Therefore, the parents must be judicious, so that one kid may not feel neglected than the other.

Happy Siblings: Happy Parents!
Happy Siblings: Happy Parents! | Source

Some Parenting Tips And Techniques To Handle Sibling Rivalry:

Sibling Rivalry is most unpleasant and frustrating for the Parents. But the solution also lies with them and with their wisdom, it can be handled efficiently.

1. Do not get too much involved:

If a fight is going on, do not get too much involved, unless they get physical. If you support one kid, the other may get the feeling, you are favouring or protecting him/ her and the other may feel high that he/ she is more dear to you and get away with any mischief in future as well.

2. Do Not Intervene or Examine:

If you intervene, the kids would not learn to solve their problems themselves and would always ask for your intervention. Try to ignore or ask them to resolve their differences themselves.

Do not try to examine, whose fault it was. In any case, if there is a fight, two people are involved.

3. Encourage The Kids To Solve Their Disputes Themselves:

When the kids try to resolve disputes on their own, they also learn some basic skills, which can be useful to them in their future.

They would learn that there can be a different point of view or opinion.

They may also learn,how to make negotiations and compromises.

4. Set Some Rules For Acceptable Behaviour In The Family:

Make some rules that there should not be any shouting, yelling, physical harm, bickering etc. and whoever breaks the rules will have to bear the consequences.

Make them responsible for their actions and behaviour. This would also discourage the discussion about, who was 'right' and who was 'wrong.'

5. Teach them to respect Individual Needs:

Each child has some different and unique needs. You as a parent should understand that and if you are successful in explaining this to your kids, there would not be any jealousy and rather the other child would help you in performing your duties towards the child in need of your attention.

6. Listening Always Helps:

You are a parent and you have immense capability to control unfavourable situations, merely by LOVE and ATTENTION, and you are the only one who can do it.

Each child should get the feeling that he/ she got the equal opportunity to be heard.

Merely venting out their feelings, makes them feel better.

A little bit of appreciation, if the kids are happy and teamed up, goes a long way, to further their efforts. Because kids always want to make their parents happy.

To Conclude:

Sibling Rivalry though, a sensitive and delicate issue, can be easily handled by the parents.

Show the children, that you love them, care for them, worry for them.

Have family sittings, create moments of Fun and Happy Bonding, Make them feel for each other.

Make them realise that the parents, brothers and sisters always will stand for you, in happy times as well as troubled times.

Even when the children grow up, have regular family gatherings and encourage them to share, their family matters or work related matters.

Spending time with each other or remaining connected to each other, always helps in sharing happy and strong bond among Siblings.

© Chitrangada Sharan 7th Jan. 2014

All Rights Reserved.



Parenting Skills from Practical Parenting: Source: You tube

© 2014 Chitrangada Sharan


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    • ChitrangadaSharan profile image

      Chitrangada Sharan 11 months ago from New Delhi, India

      Thanks Tabithatopp38 for reading and sharing your concerns here!

      I can understand how you must be feeling being a parent.

      Your daughters are in their teens and this is a very crucial stage of life. Most of the behavioural issues of children occur in this phase and parenting is most difficult in this period.

      Along with the other suggestions mentioned above you have to have patience with both of them so that none of them feel sidelined, neglected or less appreciated compared to the other one.

      Sometimes you may have to ignore some of their arguments and avoid being a part of it.

      Children have a tendency to find solutions if elders do not come in between. This way both of them might find a way to converse with each other, even if it to disagree on certain issues.

      'Let's agree to disagree', what a wonderful saying.

      Problem can be more serious if the children don't talk to each other.

      You might not like it but I would suggest you not to explain to them how important they are to each other. Let them find it out themselves.

      I hope and pray that this is a temporary phase and your daughters would become closest siblings and extremely fond of each other.

      Wish you all the best!

    • profile image

      Tabithatopp38 11 months ago

      I don't know if I'll get a response since it's been years since someone posted on here but I'm hoping I do, I need help! I have 2 daughters 11 and 15 and let me tell u they absolutely hate eachother! It's always shut up I hate you, ur a loser, shut up or I'll shut up up! It's exhausting mentally for me i can't take it its heartbreaking! No matter how I try to explain to them that their Sister is the only person who will always be there for them and there talking to each other like that breaks my heart they DO NOT GIVE A CRAP! I don't know how to get them to stop...if anyone has any advice please let me know!

    • ChitrangadaSharan profile image

      Chitrangada Sharan 3 years ago from New Delhi, India

      You are right--it is very tough for parents to maintain a balanced behavior. And we have to make a conscious effort, so that no child feels neglected or over protected/ pampered.

      Thanks for your visit and comments!

    • Learn Things Web profile image

      Learn Things Web 3 years ago from California

      This is a tough issue for parents. I have two kids. If I praise one the other sees it as a criticism of them. So, I always have to make sure if I compliment one I should compliment the other as well. I feel like I always have to be thinking ahead in terms of what I say to them because kids can be made to feel inadequate so easily even if that was never the parent's intention.

    • ChitrangadaSharan profile image

      Chitrangada Sharan 3 years ago from New Delhi, India

      Hi moonlake!

      Thanks for reading this hub and commenting!

      I am sorry to hear that certain rivalries are there in your family. In fact the best one can do in such a situation, as you have mentioned above is underplay. This is my opinion, but I have seen it works in many cases. Giving too much importance to each word or remark, can make you unhappy or depressed. Its best to divert attention from such situations and clarifying your point of view, sometimes boomerangs.

      If someone has decided to think in a certain way, it is very difficult to make them understand. More so if they are grown ups.

      Thanks for your comments!

    • ChitrangadaSharan profile image

      Chitrangada Sharan 3 years ago from New Delhi, India

      Thank you ARUN KANTIji, for your visit and insightful comments!

      You have pointed out certain important facts. I agree with you that parents must maintain balance, while dealing with their children. Lot of patience and understanding is required in dealing with sibling rivalry, if unfortunately it happens in a particular family.

      Wise words from you! Thanks.

    • ChitrangadaSharan profile image

      Chitrangada Sharan 3 years ago from New Delhi, India

      Thank you vocalcoach, for visiting and commenting!

      Sibling rivalry happens in certain families and then it is a very painful situation for parents. Thanks for appreciating the hub and sharing it!

    • moonlake profile image

      moonlake 3 years ago from America

      I see it every day in members of my family. It's really sad and actually not much can be done. When daughter-in-laws or son-in-laws are added to the mix it can get worse.

      My sister was a middle child and to this day she thinks she was picked on by my parents. Just opposite happened they let her get away with more because she had rheumatic fever and they always worried about her health. She has a great imagination. I use to fight with her, but don’t anymore. I just accept her the way she is. What can I do not much of what I say to her will change her mind. The comment I love the most from her is "They worked me like a dog." A very funny statement she works very hard now, but when she was young it took all I could do to get her to help in the kitchen.

      It’s too bad kids fight when they could become great friends when they are older.

      Voted up.

    • ARUN KANTI profile image

      ARUN KANTI CHATTERJEE 3 years ago from KOLKATA

      Jealousy and sibling rivalry are normal human feelings and cannot always be avoided but the parents have to play a vital role so that they love and support each other. Affection brings the kids together and help them become less jealous since they feel that they are being given proper attention and recognition. Often parents tend to be partial towards a child which causes major problems. Only equal attention should be given to them and the sense of responsibility should be inculcated at an early age when such unnecessary bickering will gradually stop. Thank you for the wonderful hub.

    • vocalcoach profile image

      Audrey Hunt 3 years ago from Nashville Tn.

      Excellent hub on Sibling Rivalry. I don't remember having this problem with my siblings. I have seen this in other families. Parents should read this article. I will share it!

    • ChitrangadaSharan profile image

      Chitrangada Sharan 4 years ago from New Delhi, India

      Thanks Debb, for your kind visit and continued support!

      I am glad that you liked the tips! Even I believe that sometimes, the kids should be given liberty to find the solutions themselves. This also encourages them to decide independently on crucial matters in future life.

      Thanks again!

    • aviannovice profile image

      Deb Hirt 4 years ago from Stillwater, OK

      As always, you provide excellent advice for parenting needs. Kids usually solve differences among themselves, if given the proper leadership skills. That is where good parenting really comes in!

    • ChitrangadaSharan profile image

      Chitrangada Sharan 4 years ago from New Delhi, India

      Thanks sangre, for your visit and insightful comments!

      I quite agree with your observation and it is very unfortunate if this kind of rivalry happens when the siblings are grown up. In fact it is beyond control then.

      Thanks again!

    • sangre profile image

      Sp Greaney 4 years ago from Ireland

      I've witnessed this type of behaviour in families and sometimes the parent/s are the cause. I think it is worse when it happens to a family later on in life where the siblings are in their 50's/60's. Usually it's a stupid reason too. Talk about acting like 5 year olds. :)

    • ChitrangadaSharan profile image

      Chitrangada Sharan 4 years ago from New Delhi, India

      Thanks Ericdierker, for you kind visit and comments!

      I can understand that it is a debatable issue and different people may have different views. What I want to convey that it is the Parents, who can help in avoiding such kind of situations. In spite of the best and sincere efforts of the Parents, if things go out of hand, then I don't think anyone can help.

      I have seen some very close siblings falling apart, due to various reasons and it is really painful and hurtful, most of all for the parents.

      Thanks for your support and insightful comments!

    • ChitrangadaSharan profile image

      Chitrangada Sharan 4 years ago from New Delhi, India

      Thanks denise.w.anderson, for reading and sharing your experience as a parent.

      I agree with you that sometimes we have to and we must intervene, as parents to teach the 'rights' and the 'wrongs' to the children. I have three children, now all grown up and well placed in their jobs, with not much age gap also. I have made conscious efforts throughout, to avoid unpleasant rivalries among my kids. And I would be lying, if I say that it was easy.

      The job of the parent is very crucial, as you yourself, must be realising in maintaining a balance, so that none of them feel neglected, overshadowed or over pampered.

      Many thanks for your insightful comments!

    • ChitrangadaSharan profile image

      Chitrangada Sharan 4 years ago from New Delhi, India

      Thanks Devika, for reading and commenting!

      I agree, sometimes Parents also take things for granted, without realising that even children expect a certain balanced behaviour from them.

      Thank you for your opinion and support!

    • ChitrangadaSharan profile image

      Chitrangada Sharan 4 years ago from New Delhi, India

      Thanks billybuc, for your kind visit and comments!

      You are right, that it is natural, when it is at low level, but if taken to extremes, it is very harmful and may be beyond repair. In that case, we may safely blame the destiny for it.

      Thank you so much for your feedback! Have a good day!

    • Ericdierker profile image

      Eric Dierker 4 years ago from Spring Valley, CA. U.S.A.

      And important discussion that deserves our attention. Well done. I was youngest and harmed by sibling rivalry but also greatly enhanced thereby. It is a tough issue. Individual character building solves most of exposure to damage.

    • denise.w.anderson profile image

      Denise W Anderson 4 years ago from Bismarck, North Dakota

      We had seven children, three older, three younger, and one in the middle. There were times when I would intervene during episodes of sibling rivalry, otherwise, it would get out of hand. My objective in intervening was to teach them how to resolve conflict with each other. In doing so, I taught them to use words to say how they felt, tell what was happening, and work out an amiable solution, rather than physically hurting each other.

    • DDE profile image

      Devika Primić 4 years ago from Dubrovnik, Croatia

      Sometimes parents fail to show love toward their children this can make children feel insecure and behave in such ways.

    • billybuc profile image

      Bill Holland 4 years ago from Olympia, WA

      At low levels this is perfectly natural. When taken to extremes it is very harmful. That can probably be said about much of life, yes? Interesting points made and the suggestions were helpful as well.