Deep down, siblings may love each other, but they may often compete for parental attention and in other areas, such as friends, appearance and gaining achievements.
Patch asked a few of our local parents what they believed to be the cause behind sibling rivalry in their households and how they deal with it.
Patch: What do you think plays the biggest role in sibling rivalry?
Stacy Blom: Due to the fact that my girls are four-and-a-half years apart, there hasn't really been a lot of sibling rivalry. The only rivalry is more of a competition i.e. the younger one thinks she has to be the same and do the same things as the older one.
We try very hard to maintain their own identity but for some reason, she thinks she has to be just like her sister! This makes me sad because they each have their own personalities and should be treated as such! It's like she's trying to live in her sister's shoes!
Christie Arias: I think in general (or at least in my case), the older sibling usually teases the younger sibling. Also, boys tend to do more teasing. I think they enjoy hearing the shrill of a little girl's scream.
Teresa Mills-Faraudo: From my own experience and what I’ve heard from others, sibling rivalry is very common. My son has a lot of issues with sharing his toys with his little sister and every time she gets something he has to have it too. As the youngest of eight kids myself, it’s hard not to take sides with my younger daughter. I know what it is like to be picked on by older siblings.
Patch: How do you help your child handle feelings of anger or resentment after battling with a sibling?
Stacy: What bothers me the most with my girls is their lack of respect for each other! They can treat their friends with the utmost respect but when it comes to communicating with each other, they are not very nice! I try very hard not to get involved in their battles with each other but when it comes to disrespect, I definitely step in. Mostly I get angry with the oldest because she should know better and be nicer!
Christie: My kids are very close in age. When the teasing began, the younger one was too young to handle it and just did whatever she could to stop it, which was biting. We have put a stop to that, thankfully. I try not to favor one side over the other. It is hard though because the screaming drives me crazy! It's a good opportunity to teach kids patience, understanding and forgiveness.
Teresa: I continually tell my son that I love him just as much as I love his sister. I tell him that being a big brother is a very special role and that he needs to set a good example. He needs to show her how to act around others.
Patch: In general, how do you avoid sibling rivalry among your children?
Stacy: With the age difference, I think it helped that I never forced them on each other. They were each allowed their own friends, their own time and were never made to be responsible for one another. If the oldest was going out with her friends, I never made her take along my youngest.
Christie: I try to keep my kids busy. It usually happens at home when they are not engaged in something. If they are playing a game or doing a project, they tend to irritate each other less. It is difficult because they share a room and have none of their "own" space. I am looking forward to them having separate rooms that they can retreat to when the other is bothering them. I intend to put a rule in place that they cannot go into the other's bedroom without being invited.
Teresa: It’s hard to avoid it completely. My son was the center of the universe before my daughter was born and now he’s not, so it’s hard on him. I get that. I just really emphasize to him that he’s lucky to be a big brother and he needs to be kind to his sister. I tell him to show her how to play with things and then let her play with it. I try to emphasize the importance of his role as a big brother.
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