ISSN - 0973-0958

Pediatric Oncall Journal

Sibling Rivalry 01/09/2014 00:00:00

Sibling Rivalry

Vinayak Deshmukh, Jayant Wagh.
Dept of pediatrics, J.N.M.C.Sawangi Meghe, Wardha.

inayak Deshmukh, Raut Wadi, Akola.- .444005.

Why siblings should quarrel when their parents are same? Siblings share the same genetic material from parents, still why so much rivalry, when their parents love each other so much. It is a common problem I face in my practice. Naturally the answer lies very much in the family itself. Newborn mind is like a blank paper except some imprinting from the inherited genes or environment he experiences in the mothers womb. Sibling rivalry I feel is a natural phenomenon, which occurs in every family. Parents should learn to dilute it & convert it in to a love bond between their siblings. All the expectant parents should undergo a training course on how to behave with your children & how to become better parents.

Family Structure

Parents attitude towards the children is very crucial for there future relations. Unfair comparison & inequality in the love of parents for two children is a powerful generator of rivalry. Aggressive or possessive parents will transmit the same tendencies to there siblings. Discordant parents will have emotionally unstable children, who are likely to indulge in rivalry. Parent's rivalry with the grand parents or with the uncles will cast the same shadow on kids. They pick up the same language, same thoughts used by there elders. Volatile atmosphere in the house will have quarreling kids. Cool loving parents will have similar type of kids. Siblings are the mirror images of their parents. Some babies are born more aggressive & some more assertive. Sibling personality & physique has close relation with the rivalry& it has something to do with the sex of the sibs. If both are males or females then the incidence of rivalry is more. Ideal combination is a male & female combination where incidence of rivalry is definitely less.

The First Child

The first child experiences the extremes of parent's behavior. Young parents with the birth of their first child are overenthusiastic in pampering him as well as putting him to harsh discipline at times. They have very high expectations from him. This young father has newly started his career. Naturally with little work, he has plenty of time to spare for his first baby. He remembers his child hood & accordingly tries to shape his child. Twenty-five years old childhood imprints on fathers mind are carried forward to his first baby. Mostly he is a father without any parenting experience & lot of energy to shape his first child. So this first child is really like a king in there small empire. Mother of this first child is in no mood to put her first baby to any discipline. She learns mothering from her first child. Sibling rivalry actually starts before the arrival of second baby. Parents & grand parents out of fun starts teasing the elder one about the transfer of privileges he is enjoying to the new arriving baby. This instigating behavior of elders in the house is the root cause of rivalry in many cases. Arrival of younger sibling is a big catastrophe to the first one. His monopoly for love and affection of parents is lost by mere presence of the second one. His security comes from parents who, he feels have turned away from him with the arrival of new baby in the home. Most young children show some mixture of resentment & love for the baby who displaces them from the youngest position in family. A grown up child with a good amount of socialization is less likely to get upset with the arrival of second child. On the other hand parents are very happy with their planning & new success. The moment this second guest arrives the first one is in ecstatic mood. He is in mood to take possession of this baby toy. He wants to cuddle him fondle him & play with him. Unfortunately many a times he is forbidden to even touch this baby by elders present there. The first seed of sibling rivalry is sown. Net result is first child will either develop aggressive behavior or he will be withdrawn & depressed. The elder one is all alone. His parents & even grand parents are with the second one. Even his angel mother is not available to him .He cannot be with her. By this time father has picked up his profession very well so he is not available for both the kids. Younger baby in the home has to face the problem of father starvation. Daily needs of the first one suffer a lot with the arrival of second one. I have seen first baby developing malnutrition with the arrival of second baby. He is all alone suddenly. Naturally he feels the second one is responsible for all this in his life. So he hates the second one. Initially he tries to compete with the second one for love & affection. At times the first one hates the second one so much that he tries to inflict minor injuries to this baby.

The Second Child

This one is very lucky on arrival as he gets favors from all corners of life. Now the mother is more experienced in the art of mothering. Care, love & parenting of this child are definitely better. Father is also in position to spend leisurely on this child with his flourishing career. This child will experience lesser attention from father as compared to the elder one. Some fathers may feel more attached to the elder one, as he was more active in his parenting. Many a times they may favor the elder one unknowingly. Sibling rivalry grows well when parents do favor one of their siblings. Apart from these small favors the second one has to face many odds. He is always starving for his fathers company, as his father is a more busy a man. This baby has to learn the discipline from father, mother & his big boss elder one. This additional burden of discipline makes them more rebellious or submissive depending on their mindset. Many a times this young baby has to use his elder brother's cradle, toys or even the clothes. This they themselves may opt for out of love & affection about the elder one or at times parents may suggest utilizing these things as an economy measure. They are angry for getting the used up things of their elder brother. Younger one feels his father has closer contact & is friendlier with his elder brother. He always compares himself with his elder sib in great details. His tricycle, bicycle is little late as the father is little busier when it's a turn of a younger one. These things can provoke rivalry. Steps to avoid sibling rivalry - As soon as the second one arrives in the family the first one should be awarded the status of an adult family member. It is a great leap ahead to adulthood. Boys & girls especially between three to six years age group are fascinated to act like fathers & mothers. Elder one approaches the younger one with entirely new angle as third parent. Elder one should feel that he is working with his parents side by side with a common purpose. You may call him papa jr. or mama Jr. They should be given some responsibility & there opinion should be asked for in minor family matters. We should carry out all these things keeping in mind his age& maturity. Our aim is he should realize that he is one of the responsible people in this home. So he starts behaving accordingly. The elder one should be taught how to take care of his younger brother or sister. Elder one should be taught to cater the needs of the younger. In this process parents should support the elder one. It is desirable to have little dependence of younger sib over his elder one. In return the first child develops the caring attitude towards his younger one. As a result younger one also feels more attached towards elder one. Develop a habit in your elder child to share most of the things voluntarily with your younger sib. The net result is development of a beautiful love bond between the siblings. In many homes siblings are so much in love with each other that they hardly bother their parents. Next important point is parents should adopt impartial attitude. Treat both kids equally so the rivalry part in their life is diluted to a great extent. Toys clothes or cars need not be exactly same but every thing should be nearly same with due consideration to there interest & liking. Parents should not go for direct comparison or preference between their sibs that will sharpen rivalry. At times elder one will make direct comparison with his younger sib & asks parents to agree that he is smarter or stronger. Parents can agree to his claim occasionally. Mother may confess to him that you are big help to me or you are my right hand. Parents should be on look out to compliment their kids for their new achievements. It keeps up sense of balance. They should get full enjoyment of grown-up ness. Even if there is little jealousy between sibs loving parents can help to outgrow it gradually. The net result is both kids will end up with stronger character. Elder one should able to look for good point in young baby. This is how elder one will able to tide over the crisis & has not been defeated by it, provided if he is surer of parents love. I think good parents are equally devoted to both kids.

Few words about squabble management. Parent's favor is a prize, an added inducement for every squabble, and thus a stimulator for more quarrels. In minor quarrels parents need not interfere, but if one is pulverizing the other then parents must interfere. Parents must refuse to listen their complaints, stop judging & do not favor any one of them. If your kids feel parents are unhappy & no more interested in them, frequency of squabbles should reduce. Parents should see to it that they break it up & if they immediately resume it again then parents should interfere to stop. Last word is children should be convinced of parent's motto.
Compliance with Ethical Standards
Funding None
Conflict of Interest None
Cite this article as:
Deshmukh V, Wagh J. SIBLING RIVALRY. Pediatr Oncall J. 2006;3: 58.
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