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Sibling Rivalry & the Green Eyed Monster

Since the beginning of time, siblings have argued, bickered, and squabbled over matters great and small. From petty jealousies through to territorial disputes and on to accusations of favouritism, the list of conflicts is interminable. For children this is a matter of pride and honour; for parents it is a political minefield that needs careful navigation.

You can choose your friends but not your family, and some siblings just don’t get on.

What is going on when your children are at loggerheads?

Here are some top tips on what to do when jealousy takes hold.

Watch, listen and think about what is really happening between your children.

What are they thinking and feeling inside? Is it perhaps, ‘I can’t seem to get your attention until I call my brother rude names’ or ‘why you are so happy about Helen’s dry knickers? Haven’t I done anything to make you pleased today?’

Sometimes, the shouting may be a way of saying they want time away from each other, but they need you to help them make a retreat.

When children are struggling, perhaps at nursery or school, life can seem unbearable if a sibling receives lots of praise.

Children also like to have something special for themselves. Trouble can follow if a sister wants to make a scrapbook just like her brother’s. Although this may be a form of flattery, it doesn’t feel that way to the sibling whose personal territory is being invaded.

It is impossible to treat all your children the same, because they’re individuals with their own personalities. Parents are responsible for treating children fairly and with equal concern and attention. Sometimes our own behaviour quite unwittingly can contribute to a fraught situation between the children.

The most important thing in any relationship is communication. Just slamming doors and screaming at each other rarely helps. Communication is executed in a family in two ways – it can be instigated by parents, or siblings can sort things out among themselves

Sporting Rivalry – The solution that works for many is to make siblings do something as a team – like preparing food or building something. Once that’s achieved, the rivalry becomes pointless…

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