When sibling rivalry turns serious

  • By Team TDO

Siblings share a love-hate relationship. They can neither live without the other, nor stand the sight of each other. It’s an equation that goes through numerous ups and downs. While fights among the two are common, there are times, when it gets far more serious. These are extremely tricky moments, as things can go out of hand, and parents need to make that timely intervention.

The first thing we need to understand is what actually causes sibling rivalry.

The first and the most obvious issue, is age. The older sibling is in a sense, considered more responsible than the younger one. More often than not, this assumption leads to situations when the latter tends to get away with things, that would otherwise, earn the elder sibling a firing from the parents.

The second issue is gender. Boys and girls tend to have different and defined choices – from which movie to watch, to what snack to eat. It may not always be possible for parents to fulfill both demands at the same time.

Favoritism plays a role too. The traditional view – that girls are favorites of the father, and boys are dearer to mothers –actually turns out to be true in some cases. This provokes a feeling of jealousy among siblings. Parents too, can sometimes trigger such a form of rivalry, when they start comparing the siblings in academics, attitudes or other interests.

Sometimes the comparison is self-inflicted, where in, one sibling begins to compare herself to the other. Difference in attributes, especially related to looks and complexion, talent and attitude, also plays a crucial role in instigating rivalry.

So, given these issues, what can parents do to intervene?

Stop comparing: You need to understand that every child is unique, and recognize their individual sets of attributes, characteristics and hone their skills accordingly. Value the fact that each is special in their own way, and thereby not resort to comparison.

Listen to what your child says: Don’t ignore what your child has to say or complain about. Your child’s complaint can in fact, give you clues to possible solutions. Listen compassionately, and try to understand what your child has to say. Suppressing your child’s resentment or anger could lead to unfavorable consequences.

Avoid favoritism: Treat all your children similarly. Take great care in ensuring that favoritism is never promoted, knowingly or unknowingly.

Encourage siblings to solve their fights on their own: When issues are not related to you, it is advisable to let them sit with each other and settle their own differences. Recognize the appropriate time to step in and become the mediator.

Take immediate actions before the fight get worse: The rule of exception applies here as well. There are times when taking strict action works. It avoids the situation from getting worse. Judge the situation from a parent’s point of view and master the act of timely intervention.