Dealing with siblings rivalry.
“You’re mean, Dani! You get all the good things. Mummy got you better shoes too. Everyone hates me”.
Eight year old Eva said to her ten year old sister.
” But Dani, Mummy loves you too. She got you the Barbie set last week. I didn’t get one at all…” Eva said in defence.
Their mother rushed to the pediatrician to find out what was wrong with Dani. It was very unbecoming to find her extremely jealous of her big sister. It saddened her. How could a child be so bitter? She wondered.
“Madam, this is not unusual between siblings”. Doctor John said. It is called siblings rivalry.
What is siblings rivalry? It is a type of animosity between siblings. It is more like a coming of age thing. That is why you find your little girl in an unnecessary competition with her sister.
What are the causes of siblings rivalry?
There are a lot of factors. But I’ll be listing the most important ones to you.
- Many children feel threatened by the arrival of a new sibling. You know, a child that was used to getting every attention would become jealous to see a new born stealing his ” spot”.
- Identity. Identity comes in as a child grows. Each child is growing to discover his/her abilities, talents, strengths and weaknesses and there is this struggle to be distinct. The child wants to show that he/she is unique. This brings rivalry among siblings in the sense that an internal competition which may or may not be healthy begins to grow between the siblings.
- Unequal treatment. Child-parent relationship is a major determining factor in this. Some children tend to cleave more to one parent. Some parents tend to be closer to one child than the other too. It may interest you to know that your seemingly ignorant six year old actually notices the preferential treatments. This causes a rift between the child who feels unloved and the one who is loved more.
- Children fight more in a family where aggression is a normal tool of self expression. Children from violent homes tend to be more violent. This is because they gradually see such behaviour as normal while growing. Children who grow seeing their fathers hit their mothers or their mothers hit their fathers are destabilized by it. They begin to think that the best way to express their needs is by hitting their siblings too.
- Stressed children pick up fights quickly. A stressed and frustrated child flies off the handle quickly.
What can a parent do to handle siblings rivalry?
- Never neglect a child because of the birth of a new one. A child would always be a child. It is understandable that a new baby needs more attention, but parents should try their possible best to strike a balance so a child doesn’t get to the stage of feeling abandoned by his/her own parents.
- Parents should not compare one child to the other. Each child is unique and amazing in his own way. Be it academically, socially, physically, comparison is very unhealthy for proper child development. Especially when the said comparison is done very negatively. “Your brother performs better at maths”. As harmless as a statement like this would sound, it can make a child wallow in self pity and end up transferring aggression to his/her sibling.
- Treating children equally would go a long way to fight sibling rivalry. It is not unusual to see children desiring to own exactly what their siblings own.
- Parents should embrace children with love and correct them in a way that does not make them feel small. Violence as a disciplinary too is a leading cause of rivalry and dirty fights between siblings.
- A child’s mental health should be properly taken care of. It is not true that children do not worry. They actually do. They worry about what their friends at school would think of their new hair styles, parents approval and a lot of others. Children’s worries may seem like jokes to parents, but they are the little important things that go on in a child’s mind, and may eventually spark siblings rivalry.