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Sibling Rivalry

Author Victor Rodrigues
Submitted 06-02-2007

Competition and emulation between siblings is normal. However, when jealousy rears
its ugly head, this healthy competition or emulation can degenerate into sibling rivalry.

Sibling rivalry may occur in the following typical situations:

  • When children do not receive adequate love and affection
  • When parents make comparisons between the appearance and talents of their children
  • When one sibling is handicapped in any way
  • When one sibling is gifted
  • When parents try to settle
    differences by taking sides
  • When parents show affection to or favor one
    child while neglecting another

Siblings generally react by expressing
rivalry in the following forms:

  • Kidding or teasing
  • Quarrelling
  • Yelling
  • Physical violence

If not handled correctly, sibling rivalry can leave lifelong scars and negatively
affect all relationships even into adulthood. 

Here are some tips for
defusing sibling rivalry:

  1. Children need maximum attention during infancy. Keep a sufficient gap between one
    child and the next so that each child is able to receive the required share of attention.
  2. Connect with your child even before birth.
  3. After the
    sibling’s arrival, gently evoke dormant parental instinct in older siblings. Help them understand
    and assume their protective and responsible role towards the new entrant.
  4. Recognize that each child may need a different measure of love and affection.
    Connect with each of your children to gauge what would be each child’s requirement.
  5. Impartially devote special hours of your time to each child, according to each
    child’s need.
  6. Be generous with an overdose of love and affection.
  7. Parents may naturally like one child better. This is normal. However,
    recognize that liking a child is not the same as loving a child. Though you may like one child
    better, love all your children equally.
  8. Identify the child who is least
    lovable (if you think you like and love all your children equally, observe how others respond to him
    or her) and target him or her for maximum love and affection.

– Victor Rodrigues