Sibling rivalry is common in many households. It refers to the sibling rivalry, jealousy, and conflict that might arise. Sibling rivalry is normal and healthy, but it can also be stressful and frustrating for both parents and children. In this blog post, we will explore some of the causes, signs, and effects of sibling rivalry, as well as some tips on how deal with sibling rivalry effectively.
What is Sibling Rivalry?
Sibling rivalry, sometimes called sibling hatred syndrome, is the natural competition and conflict that arises between siblings sharing the same household. This rivalry can stem from a variety of causes, from differences in personalities and interests to vying for parental attention.
Sibling rivalry can lead to both short-term conflict and long-term consequences. While it’s normal for siblings to squabble occasionally, unresolved rivalry can result in strained relationships, leading to emotional and psychological effects that persist into adulthood.
Identifying Signs of Sibling Rivalry
Sibling rivalry can manifest in different ways, depending on the age, personality, and temperament of the children involved. Some of the common signs of sibling rivalry include:
- Frequent arguments, fights, or disagreements over trivial matters
- Name-calling, teasing, or insulting each other
- Physical aggression, such as hitting, kicking, or biting
- Blaming, tattling, or lying about each other
- Competing for attention, affection, or approval from parents or others
- Comparing themselves unfavorably or favorably to each other
- Resenting or rejecting each other’s interests, hobbies, or friends
- Showing signs of stress, anxiety, or depression
How to Handle Sibling Rivalry
It is normal for siblings to fight in the sense that they disagree and cause tension. One of the key factors that can influence how to deal with sibling rivalry is communication. How siblings communicate with each other can either escalate or de-escalate the conflict. Therefore, it is important for parents to teach their children how to communicate effectively with each other. Some of the communication skills that can help reduce sibling rivalry are:
- Listening actively and empathetically to each other’s feelings and perspectives
- Expressing their own feelings and needs clearly and respectfully
- Using “I” statements instead of “you” statements to avoid blaming or accusing
- Asking for what they want or need instead of demanding or expecting
- Negotiating and compromising when there is a disagreement or a conflict
- Apologizing and forgiving when they have hurt or offended each other
Another way to prevent or reduce sibling rivalry is to foster a positive and supportive relationship between siblings. This can help them develop a sense of trust, respect, and appreciation for each other. Some of the ways that parents can encourage sibling bonding are:
- Spending quality time with each child individually and as a family
- Creating opportunities for siblings to play, have fun, and cooperate with each other such as DIY activities
- Praising and rewarding siblings for their achievements and efforts
- Recognizing and celebrating their similarities and differences
- Encouraging them to share their thoughts, feelings, and experiences with each other
- Teaching them to help, support, and comfort each other in times of need
How Should Parents Intervene in Sibling Fights?
While it is beneficial for siblings to learn how to resolve their own conflicts, there are times when parental intervention is necessary. This is especially true when the conflict becomes violent, abusive, or harmful to the physical or emotional well-being of the children such as when a brother and sister fight. Some of the strategies that parents can use to intervene in sibling rivalry are:
- Separating the siblings until they calm down and are ready to talk
- Establishing clear and consistent rules and consequences for unacceptable behavior
- Mediating the conflict by listening to both sides and helping them find a solution
- Modeling and reinforcing positive behavior and communication and anger management skills
- Seeking professional help if the sibling rivalry is severe or persistent
5 Causes of Sibling Rivalry
Understanding how to deal with sibling rivalry sometimes requires you to understand what the cause of that rivalry lies. Here are five causes of sibling rivalries.
- Competition for Attention: Children often vie for their parents’ attention, which can intensify when a new sibling arrives or when one child seems to receive more attention due to achievements, challenges, or age-related needs. This competition for affection can lead to jealousy and rivalry between the first child, middle child, and last child.
- Desire for Individuality: Siblings may seek to establish their unique identity within the family. When children perceive their siblings as taking away from their own uniqueness, it can spark rivalry. This is especially pronounced if the siblings have similar interests or are close in age.
- Parental Comparison: Comparisons made by parents, even with good intentions, can fuel rivalry. When one child is consistently compared to another, it can create resentment and a sense of not living up to expectations, leading to competitiveness or animosity.
- Resource Allocation: Sibling rivalry can escalate over the sharing of resources such as toys, bedrooms, or even the allocation of parental time and energy. This can trigger conflicts over what is perceived as “fair” or “unfair” distribution which can cause a sort of sibling jealousy.
- Birth Order and Roles: Birth order can play a role in shaping sibling dynamics. Older siblings might feel a sense of responsibility and authority, while younger siblings might seek to challenge or assert themselves. These roles can lead to power struggles and rivalry.
How Can Parental Controls Help With Sibling Rivalry?
Using parental controls, whether they be on the child’s device by default or through a third-party app can be helpful on how to deal with sibling rivalry. For example, you can limit the screen time of two siblings to the same amount so that jealousy doesn’t occur, or you can block their apps if they’re not working through their issues with one another.
If you want to use the default parental controls on your child’s device, take a look at our resource pages below:
You can also use Safes, a third-party parental control app compatible with Android, iOS, Windows, and MacOS. Safes can help you limit your children’s screen time, track their location in real-time, and filter inappropriate content.
Sibling rivalry is a normal and inevitable part of growing up with brothers and sisters. However, it can also be a source of stress and frustration for both parents and children. By understanding the causes, signs, and effects of sibling rivalry, parents can adopt effective strategies to manage it. By teaching their children how to communicate, bond, and respect each other, parents can foster a healthy and harmonious sibling relationship.