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Sibling Rivalry: It's What Kids Do

Updated on September 4, 2011


For Parents

As the mother of three children, two girls and a boy, I am extremely familiar with "Sibling Rivalry." As the youngest of 5 children, I am extremely knowledgeable about "sibling Rivalry." Sibling rivalry is something that kids do, even if they have no siblings. It is human and necessary for growth. Sibling rivalry is probably as important to growing up and becoming successful as learning to read.

Yes, I went there. Learning to read is the most important skill you need to succeed. "If you can read you can learn anything." I say, if you can sell yourself, you can be a winner.

Let's take an important scenario. Tribes throughout the world, let's say Indigenous People, before "reading" became "fundamental", thrived and grew, increasing their borders as needed for growth of the tribe. There was sibling rivalry. Calling it survival of the fittest is really calling sibling rivalry by a different name. A chief has three sons, when he dies, it will be the strongest son, not the eldest, that becomes the chief. If there is a challenger for leadership, it will be the strongest that becomes the new chief. There will be cheering sections, followers if you will, who take sides. And to the victor go the spoils.

Quit Touching Me!

In Real Life

In real life, sibling rivalry starts at a young age. Attention is necessary for survival. The baby cries, and the parent responds. This is the first lesson every human, and in fact every animal, learns. When there is a new sibling (anything goes here, neighbor, pet) that demands attention, our mind goes into survival mode. We need to "make more noise" than our rival. He's touching me, he won't stop touching me, leave me alone, quit touching me!

Parents (supervisors, friends, hubbers) respond. Quit touching your sister, leave her alone. 

As we grow up, we realize that "the squeaky door gets the grease" and we make more noise, every where we go. We, as creatures of habit, apply our theory of survival, in school, in jobs, in friendships, at the bar, on line, and even in our relationships with complete strangers.

Don't talk to me!

Winner or Loser

Now that we have set up an altercation, whether by touching or talking, we have opened the door to alienation. Of course, our brain chemistry is such that survival depends on others. We cannot abide complete alienation. The next tactic is campaigning.

We choose our tactics wisely, we engage in public debate, we know that some will be for us, and some against us. We must try yo win as many supporters to our side as possible. This is where we begin to "swear and promise" we may also "threaten and punish". The example that follows is a real life scenario, the story is true, the names are changed. Don't get freaked out, this happened in the '80s, it is about real children and did not happen on the internet.

Anna, a pretty blonde girl in the neighborhood, decided to start a club. My daughters, DD, and Jackie, became members. The two girls across the street, Carla and Tess, also joined.

At a meeting it was decided that a president should be elected. Anna assumed she had started the club, there should be no competition. But DD and Tess thought otherwise. It should be a vote. They wanted Jackie, because she was always fair. The campaign ensued. Jackie was going to win, even though she was voting for Anna. Tess got kicked out. That made it a tie, with Anna winning because it was her house.

The next day, DD played a game with Tess, and got caught by Anna. DD was kicked out for breaking the rules by fraternizing with a non-club member.

Jackie got called to the club meeting at 4:pm, she went outside and had words with Anna, then tore up her "membership card" and threw it in Anna's face. She came in and told DD that she had been kicked out of the club too. (This was a lie, but she liked her sister more than her friends) Carla heard about it at the meeting and quit. Now Anna was the only member of her club, and by virtue of the rules, was not allowed to play with any of her friends. That lasted about a day, so she could learn her lesson. They soon decided clubs were silly.

Moral, even kids know they need each other to survive.

Even today, on our streets, and in our chat rooms, gangs form, leaders rise and fall, and people leave, deciding never to talk to each other again. People leave the group and come back. Some forgive and forget, like kids do, and some choose to stay neutral, still others will never forgive you, no matter what you do.



For those who are able to forgive, life goes on, and we move swiftly and even serenely onto the next step. The next step of course, is moving forward, stepping into the new day. We become productive again, and get on with our lives.

But what happens to us when we don't forgive? Think about how you treat the people in your life that you have not forgiven. Do you talk to them, chide them, deride them. You most certainly do not forget about it and move on. Who was it that said: "the best revenge is living well." I want to shake their hand. If you choose not to forgive, that is your right and your decision. What should you do?

Redirect your energy! Do not waste the time that it takes to exact revenge on the unforgiven members of your family, group, organization etc. Use your energy elsewhere or you begin to look different, act different, and treat others differently than before you were affected in the first place.

If you are in the business of trying to make friends. influence people, and possibly even make money, then making and punishing enemies is not the way you will achieve your goals. Remember what my mama always said "Never do ANYTHING that you wouldn't want your grandma to see published on the front page of the newspaper." 

Think about it. Sibling rivalry is what kids do, and when they grow up, they call it "Healthy Competition" and "Survival of the Fittest" I ask you, is it really healthy? Is it really going to help you survive, or even make or prove your fitness? I don't think so. I just see a lot of people fighting with each other.

Helping Mothers and Others

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If you need help with something else, like coping, or writing, please feel free to contact me as well. Just click on the Contact Faybe Bay link on the right.

Have a Great Day, and please, leave a comment or rate my hubs if you like them. Thanks!

Furthering Your Business, Educational Materials.


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    • Faybe Bay profile imageAUTHOR

      Faye Constantino 

      5 years ago from Florida

      Google Translation (I am not sure if this is completely accurate) "The film is not only and not so much on the establishment of girls' band. His story is much broader. This is - the life story of five girls, their first love, disappointment, dramas. The heroine Lera Kozlova - vizazhistka-disaster. Betrayal of a loved one, a friend of another deception. And it is not so easy in a relationship with her father-cosmetic-stylist, who by virtue of their perfume technology is difficult to devote much time to her daughter. And they have no mother ..."

    • profile image


      5 years ago

      Фильм не только и не столько о создании девчоночьей музыкальной группы. Его сюжет гораздо шире. Это – история жизни пяти девчонок, их первой любви, разочарованиях, драмах. Героиня Леры Козловой – визажистка-катастрофа. Предательство любимого, обман очередного знакомого. И не так все просто в отношениях с отцом-косметик-стилистом, которому в силу своей парфюмерные технологии трудно уделять много времени дочери. А мамы у них нет…

    • Faybe Bay profile imageAUTHOR

      Faye Constantino 

      5 years ago from Florida

      I guess you're using a translator and that's an awesome effort to communicate! It is good to become more resilient (guessing that is the underlying meaning) and bounce back from problems. In this article I was trying to highlight the fact that even though we are no longer children, we carry the "Sibling Rivalry" into our adult relationships, even at work and in social networking. It's important to realize that we are all brothers and sisters (siblings) on this planet and understand that rivalry is common. It's not personal, it is reality. Keep bouncing back!

    • profile image


      5 years ago

      When i utilized to find high on life although recently I've truly established a new amount of resistance.

    • Faybe Bay profile imageAUTHOR

      Faye Constantino 

      7 years ago from Florida

      I have two girls and a boy, and believe me, even though they are all adults, they still have the rivalry going on, that's why we stress forgiveness. It's the only way to keep a family together.

    • TKLMommy profile image


      7 years ago from Maui, Hawaii

      I have 3 daughters of my own and there is so much sibling rivalry bewtween them! It can be the smallest thing, yet they will still compete. Thank you for this article, I can so relate.

    • Faybe Bay profile imageAUTHOR

      Faye Constantino 

      7 years ago from Florida

      Thank you! I really can appreciate that as I have two older children and one younger. The sibling rivalry is different with the distance in age. This hub was also about how we carry that rivalry into the workplace, and even onto the internet in social networking. Weird how the patterns we form in our home life and childhood can carry on in adult life without us even realizing it!

    • gmwilliams profile image

      Grace Marguerite Williams 

      7 years ago from the Greatest City In The World-New York City, New York

      To Faybe Bay: Great hub! Sibling rivalry is a fact of life when parents have more than one child. When parents have two or more children, each child is vying for the attention of the parents. And the more children there is in a family, the more intense the sibling rivalry. The only way not to have sibling rivalry is to have one child! I never had any sibling rivalry my entire life! It was so peaceful! That is the way I like it! Great hub!

    • Faybe Bay profile imageAUTHOR

      Faye Constantino 

      8 years ago from Florida

      Hi Aesmith! I must admit I do not envy you that combination! My girls were 18 months apart, but there was a 14 year gap between my eldest and youngest. Anyway, you have to remember that we all survive it. I hope you enjoy Hub Pages. If I run across any tips in this regard I will definitely let you know.

    • aesmith2009 profile image

      Amy RedCloud 

      8 years ago from USA

      Love this post. I'm new to the hub community but not to the sibling rivalry! My children are 3, 2, and 10 months (all 17 months a part) and they already fight like cats and dogs (EVEN THE BABY! HE SCREAMS AND BITES!) I don't know WHAT to expect by the time they become three teenagers. BTW, its one girl (the oldest) and two boys....

    • Faybe Bay profile imageAUTHOR

      Faye Constantino 

      8 years ago from Florida

      Thanks Rmr, I know all about the tag team, my kids do that whenever they are in the same room! Like you said, never a dull moment!

    • rmr profile image


      8 years ago from Livonia, MI

      Great topic! We have 2 kids (1 boy, 1 girl) that we've somehow kept alive into their teens. Sibling rivalry has always been a source of aggravation. By the time we figured out how to approach that, they had already discovered that it was more effective to form a tag-team. Never a dull moment with kids, is there?

    • Faybe Bay profile imageAUTHOR

      Faye Constantino 

      8 years ago from Florida

      Hi Hummingbird! I thought the videos were great, reminded me of growing up and of raising my kids. Patterns of behavior stay with us always.

    • Hummingbird5356 profile image


      8 years ago

      This is a very good hub. The videos show exactly how kids behave, nothing changes. And a lot of stuff happened in our family too when the parents were not there.

    • Faybe Bay profile imageAUTHOR

      Faye Constantino 

      8 years ago from Florida

      @Sage I am sorry that it was like that for you, growing up. In my family, my siblings were older, and a lot of the stuff happened when the parents were out, or when we were outside with friends. We tried very hard not to get each other in trouble, I did get my brother in trouble, and I made sure that I never did that again.

    • Faybe Bay profile imageAUTHOR

      Faye Constantino 

      8 years ago from Florida

      This is truly a sight to see! I stayed up too late, and slept too late!

      @Breakfastpop, you do not look old enough to have grandchildren!

      @Rafini, it's normal, and yes you should try to reason with them, but it's your job to be impartial. You have to try not to take sides. And my rule was "Do not put a mark on each other!" There were consequences for hurting anyone, but not name calling and "she's touching me".

    • prettydarkhorse profile image


      8 years ago from US

      lovely hub about forgiveness madam, thank you!

    • De Greek profile image

      De Greek 

      8 years ago from UK

      For those who are able to forgive, life goes on - No wonder I am a devoted fun:-)

    • profile image


      8 years ago

      just to add, and rate this up again.

      Forgiveness is a key point and so glad you brought it up.

      It gives us humility, understanding, maturity and I believe integrity

      thanks again

    • profile image


      8 years ago

      I find it fascinating and an eye opener that we are creatures of habit and squeak as we learned to survive from sibling rivalry.

      This all is really cool and makes much sense

      I thank you


    • Pamela99 profile image

      Pamela Oglesby 

      8 years ago from Sunny Florida

      Very good hub on sibling rivalry. It was very frustrating sometime with my 3 boys but just part of growing up. They are all close today. I enjoyed the videos and Don Henley's music. Forgiveness is the only healthy choice for us to make emotionally as well as, physically.

    • Sandyspider profile image

      Sandy Mertens 

      8 years ago from Wisconsin, USA

      Great hub.

    • Sage Williams profile image

      Sage Williams 

      8 years ago

      What a terrific hub, I just love those videos that you put in. How precious, I am still laughing. I don't remember sibling rivalry growing up. Perhaps this is why I never understood the saying, "the squeky wheel gets the grease." I grew up in the house of fear where you didn't dare say the wrong word let alone start a fight with one of your siblings. It was just the opposite we all pretty much protected and stood up for the other one so that all hell wouldn't break loose. My siblings are all still pretty close today. I guess it's a different kind of bond.

      Forgiveness is essential to a healthy lifestyle. Thanks for taking me back to The Eagles and the Heart of the Matter. Great Song.

      I really enjoyed this hub, it was a great read, rated up!


    • Rafini profile image


      8 years ago from Somewhere I can't get away from

      So sibling rivalry is a good thing? lol Here I've always tried to prevent it! lol

      Nice hub. :)

    • breakfastpop profile image


      8 years ago

      Terrific hub. I lived through it with my sister, I watched my daughters do the same, but so far I am not witnessing too much of it with my grandchildren. There's still time for the rivalry to rear its normal but trying head!

    • Faybe Bay profile imageAUTHOR

      Faye Constantino 

      8 years ago from Florida

      Anyway, H.C. When they grow up they will be there for each other through thick and thin. It's a guarantee.

    • Faybe Bay profile imageAUTHOR

      Faye Constantino 

      8 years ago from Florida

      @ AEvans: Yeah, I think we all have these memories. I was never the president, the club always disbanded before we got that far. It is true though, my younger daughter is always the "queen of fairness" even now. Ironically even the older two knew she was more fair than any others. I miss those days, and then I see what they have become and I think, well... I must have done something right, or maybe it wasn't me at all, and they just found their way. I am so proud of them.

      @H.C.: It's all good! "Jackie" tried to bite "DD" before she even had teeth! I heard my two year old scream, and I cam in to see the baby had two hands full of her sister's hair and was trying to bite her Head! Of all things! When I got them separated it turned out the two year old had decided to reclaim a "baby toy" from her younger sister, that used to be hers. "Jackie" wasn't having it. But how would she know to bite? She didn't have teeth yet!

    • H.C Porter profile image


      8 years ago from Lone Star State much to look forward to with my now 1 and 2 year old. They already have the competition games down. Great Hub!

    • AEvans profile image


      8 years ago from SomeWhere Out There

      hehehe I know it shouldn't be funny but I remember when we started a club and I was about 14 we kept voting and arguing, voting and arguing finally I was the President, well only for a week, lololo All of us took turns! I truly enjoyed this hub on sibling rivalry. :)

    • Faybe Bay profile imageAUTHOR

      Faye Constantino 

      8 years ago from Florida

      I though it was appropriate, in keeping with the theme of what kids do. It is all about what we learn, and what we take with us into adulthood. My kids are so close that sometimes I feel like the outsider. It was the rivalry and the forgiveness that made them close.

    • profile image


      8 years ago

      This is a great hub, Faybe. I really enjoyed reading it and that was so sweet of your one daughter to do for the other and totally cool that the other girl quit the club too. :-) Good for them. And yes forgivness is a wonderful thing...more people should express it.

    • Faybe Bay profile imageAUTHOR

      Faye Constantino 

      8 years ago from Florida

      I explained it to my kids when they were going through it. It's like animals creating their pecking order. For instance, I have three cats, the two toms hate the female, but she rules them. Once a raccoon came on the porch and scared my female cat half to death, she wouldn't go out anymore! The toms started to lay in wait for the raccoon. See, Roxy may be a b***h, but she's their b***h, and nobody better mess with her.

      It's the same with kids, they fight because one wants to "make the rules" but in the end, don't let anyone mess with their friend, sibling, litter mate, co-worker. It is all the same, it starts in infancy and carries on throughout life, even to a point where divorced parents will fight over their kids attention! It is universal, from dinosaurs to humans. We all want to be Number One, but if we can't, we will defend our Number One. You are probably somebody's top cat, too.

    • angela_michelle profile image

      Angela Michelle Schultz 

      8 years ago from United States

      I'm glad you pointed out that sibling rivalry occurs when kids don't have siblings. My daughter is currently an only child, and I often see her treating some of her close friends with the same argumentative behavior as she would a sister or brother. This frustrates me, and I sometimes worry that she's not learning to get along. But then two seconds later they are calling each other best friends and playing nicely, just like siblings. I can't help but wonder if she is acting this out, and because they are so young, they are just so forgiving of this kind of play.


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