Preventive Steps to Control Sibling Rivalry

Rivalry, jealousy and selfishness are some of the human vices that start breeding from a very tender age. Toddlers as small as 3 years old learn to show these traits in their own innocent ways. Parents raising more than 1 child can relate to this and can testify the above statement!

A complicated rivalry

Same blood, same parents, same background and an endless list of similar stuffs and still they compete!

Complicated isn’t it?

Most of us being unaware of these issues fail to take corrective measures which create a lot of trouble in future.

                                  sibling rivalry

Am I responsible for this?

Frankly speaking, yes! Yes because, in most of the cases, rivalry among small children are triggered by some or the other wrong parental actions or activities.

These are the 3 of the most common reasons:

i) Comparison  

“Why can’t you dribble the ball? Look at your brother”

(Angrily) “Your sister was obedient and a sincere learner at your age. When will you grow up?”

These comparisons actually do more harm than good. If you want to improve your weak kids motivate them instead of comparing with their siblings.

ii) Kids lack a role model

Will you take fitness tips from someone who never had any physical workout?

Or lessons of spirituality from a materialistic person?

You won’t, right?

Then why would your kids listen to your lectures on sibling love when you do not share a good bonding with your siblings?

The chances of children accepting guidance and teachings from parents who are good role model are more compared to those who aren’t!

dangers of sibling rivalry

Children observe a lot. In the initial years of life the practical experiences gained from parents leave a deep impact on their delicate minds.

So if you have some differences with your siblings here is one more reason to settle things up for everyone’s good.

iii) Favoritism                

Often in families the kids with good manners, successful academic record or an inclination toward sports get all the attention and are chosen as a benchmark of how an ideal boy/girl should be.

While the person concerned enjoys all the attention, this becomes a burden for the rest of the kids who gradually start to feel the heat of their sibling’s achievements. And then begins the never ending episodes of jealousy and insecurity.

Favouritism has dangerous outcomes. To know more read this post by Judith Kleinfeld.

Antidotes to kill this poison

Educate your kids on the importance of sibling love and let them know how beautiful this relationship can be if handled effectively. Though innocent fights and childish jealousy are okay up to a limit, but things go worse when the childhood rivalry continues even in the later stages of life. To avoid this, take preventive measures from the very beginning.

i) Whenever there is any difference of opinion between the children intervene and solve the issue sensibly.

ii) If you notice a gap between your adolescent children, speak with them directly…but in a polite manner.

iii) Encourage dining with family members, outings and movies to make your children realize the importance of family values. Good times spend together will give your children a chance to ruminate those memories in the long run.

iv) If one of your children is better than the other in terms of academic performance or career stability, encourage and help the later one to improve rather than criticising him/her.

Ask the successful one to help his/her sibling instead of showing unnecessary attitude.

v) Give lectures, dialogues on sibling relationships and its importance. Bring out the positive sides of your kids and reward them every time they show sensible behaviour.

how to deal with sibling rivalry

vi) Never criticize, compare or neglect your kid. If they fail, help them to do better with love and care.

vii) Show them some good examples of sibling-love around you. Make them understand why bonding among siblings is so important.

Thrash the bygones

Is your sister the only rival in your life?

Do you feel envy when your brother buys a new car?

This is for matured individuals who are victims of sibling rivalry. As stated earlier since it is important to become good role model for kids, it makes sense to end all the differences with your siblings and give a fresh start to your relationship.

If you want to bridge the gap but confused, try these techniques:

i) It will take some time to heal the gap. So be patient.

ii) Organize family get-togethers, plan weekend events, road trips, micro vacations with your siblings and their family (if any). Take close friends or other family members if required.

                                               (Also read: why kids lie)

iii) Feeling awkward to call? Thank to social media platforms like facebook, googleplus and many more, you can initiate a virtual chat first. Once you feel comfortable, go for direct conversation.

iv) If you cannot initiate the conversation, ask a common friend/relative to act as a bridge to connect you to your siblings.

And finally…

You can’t be with your kids forever! Someday you have to leave this planet leaving your children all alone without any guardian. (Pardon me if I am sounding too harsh)

But this is reality and before this day knocks, make sure to bring your kids closer to one another so that they can be their mutual support system throughout their lives. After all a family becomes strong when the members live and die for one another.

Over to you

Feel free to share your views regarding the issue and add points if I have missed any. You can also offer suggestions and protective measures to help our readers deal with this problem.


A positive living and self development blogger and motivator.
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10 thoughts on “Preventive Steps to Control Sibling Rivalry

  1. Tuhin, great info. There was less than 2 years between my younger brother and myself. When he was only 11 months old, he threw himself out of the playpen, toddled over to where I was sitting on dad’s knee and pushed me off. Up to then he had never walked by himself so amazing what jealousy and anger can do. Fortunately we both got over it but there is a real example of sibling rivalry.

  2. I’m the oldest of 3 sisters. We didn’t compete growing up because our parents supported our different strengths seemingly equally. OTOH, our two sons who are 3.5 years apart in age have always had an intense sibling rivalry—-not for parental approval so much as a competition between themselves in every sphere. This continued when they became adults to the point that for awhile they weren’t speaking to each other, each complaining about the other to me. This was very upsetting to me. They eventually had a meeting (without me) and agreed that they are very different, but would make an effort to respect each other. I don’t know that they’ll ever be close siblings, but I think they’ll be there for each other during the inevitable hard times.

  3. Great article!

    As children, my sister and me fought terribly. Looking back it was for the silliest of reasons. We used to measure the size of our food, arguing that the other was given more!

    It is important that sibling rivalry does not get out of hand, following one into adulthood life.

  4. I have an older sister and while we had the typical sisterly-fights when we were younger, and sometimes in this day, we never had a poisonous rivalry so we are lucky in that sense.

  5. I really appreciate your advice Kuhin and I hope those with children will take it to heart. I grew up with a younger sister who basically hated me because of overt favoritism. I was the studious kid and an artist who won awards and a scholarship, blah, blah. My sister was popular and had no use for school outside of being a cheerleader. Unfortunately, as she followed a couple of years behind me in the same schools she was constantly treated to teachers comparing her C average grades to my straight A’s. So she got it both at home and in school. I don’t blame her for hating me – I would have hated me too! Thankfully we’ve since made peace.
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  6. Very true. Jealousy and rivalry are something which parents themselves insert in the innocent minds of children. We should always keep a balance while showing appreciation and strictness to the kids. Overdose of either of the two proves harmful in the long run.

  7. My brothers and I fought all the time as kids and my parents intervened — but not in a good way. It wasn’t until we were well into adulthood that we recognized how much we meant to each other. Our relationship grew into a beautiful bond that was only broken when one of my brother’s died unexpectedly. My other brother and I are still very close. I’m grateful to have him in my life.

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