Sibling Rivalry

3:50:00 pm

The Austrian psychiatrist Alfred Adler, used the term "sibling rivalry" to describe the competition between children in the same family for the attention of their parents. Of course, sibling rivalry is as old as man, long before Adler coined the phrase. It is only normal that where two or more people are gathered, there must be a bit of conflict, disagreement and rivalry. It is part of human nature. But when it involves siblings,especially those born of the same parents (monogamous family), then a lot of factors come to play.
Studies and researches have repeatedly shown that first children, perhaps because they have their parents' undivided attention, at least for a while, tend to be more aggressive and do better than younger siblings in school. Some firstborns, however, pay a price for their special status. Parents may be more critical and negative when their eldest child does not live up to expectations. Also making references to the younger siblings as a source of comparison. Not surprisingly, first children can become perfectionists who feel great tension resulting from the pressure to do well. It is at this point that parents come in to play a major role.
I am very sure that most of us have witnessed scenes at home while growing up, when one of our parents or both, scold a sibling of ours who's probably gone out of line or misbehaved. We hear things like "You see yourself?! Your brother would never do this. Where do you even come from?!" (lol! As if they weren't the ones that gave birth to him or her) We should beware that words go deep. They sink so deep into one's mind that they may tend to shape the person's thoughts and behavior. In that child's mind, a sort of competition has started to take place with that sibling he or she has been compared with. It takes the grace of God and the personality of that child not to develop hatred for his or her sibling(s).
Parents sometimes assume that they can reduce sibling rivalry and avoid playing favorites by treating all their children alike-the same rules, the same expectations, the same opportunities regardless of differences in age, sex and temperament. Paradoxically, this behavior often fosters the very rivalry parents are trying to avoid. Instead, parents should be sensitive to each child's individual needs. We are very familiar with the popular Bible story of Jacob and his sons. For a very long time, I have seen Joseph's siblings as being evil and mean. But I asked myself some questions. Why did Jacob make it so obvious to his remaining sons that he loved Joseph more? This was favoritism at its peak! It didn't stop there, he also made a coat of many colors and gifted it specially to Joseph. Come on! If you happened to have been one of Joseph's siblings, how would you have felt? This doesn't justify what they did though. I'm just asking these questions to juggle your minds a bit.
In my opinion, parents are the primary source of sibling rivalry asides the fact that it's a natural phenomenon. Whatever the spacing of births and the sex of the offspring, it is the parent's reactions to sibling rivalry, that strongly influence whether the children will develop feelings of intense hostility or will be content with being no more than good natured competitors. So here is a little note to all parents, whether young, old or upcoming; BE THERE FOR EACH CHILD. You might be wondering how possible it is(so did I) I thereby did a little research and these were my findings summed up in these few points;
1) Set aside “alone time” for each child, if possible.  Each parent should try to spend some one-on-one with each child on a regular basis.  Try to get in at least a few minutes each day.  It’s amazing how much even 10 minutes of uninterrupted one-on-one time can mean to your child.
2) When you are alone with each child, you may want to ask them once in a while what  are some of the positive things their brother or sister does that they really like and what are some of the things they do that might bother them or make them mad. This will help you keep tabs on their relationships, and also remind you that they probably do have some positive feelings for each other!
3) Listen—really listen—to how your children feel about what’s going on in the family.  They may not be so demanding if they know you at least care how they feel.
4) Celebrate your children’s differences.
5) Let each child know they are special in their own way.
Then I asked myself this last question, "does sibling rivalry last into adulthood?" See what I found out; In a study of older siblings, psychologists Joel I. Milgram and Helgola Ross of the University of Cincinnati found out that nearly half still had feelings of sibling rivalry and jealousy. Most frequently, these adults believed the source of the rivalrous feelings was PARENTAL FAVORITISM.
Until my next post, stay well and happy!
xo, Evita

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