News Karnataka
Thursday, January 20 2022

Know Your Child

Sibling rivalry: Why it takes place, its underlying reasons

Parenting is one of the beautiful yet challenging process. You can execute most of your plans when you have a single child. But it is quite difficult when you have your second child. As children grow together you experience roller-coaster moments. One minute silence, and the next minute environment turns violent. Sometimes the problem gets worse when parents involve without proper understanding of the situation. Sometimes it becomes so violent that the kids start calling each other names, and physically or verbally start abusing each other. Though this situation becomes uncontrollable, there are definitely a few measures which might prevent maximum trouble.

However why do rivalry takes place? and What are the reasons behind it are the biggest questions. Hence, let us have a quick glance on it.

Sibling rivalry is a universal concept. It arises from jealousy and competitiveness among siblings. When parents have a single child whether it is boy or girl, they give their 100 per cent focus and attention to that baby. As they have second baby even though they try to balance both, they need to focus or shift their attention towards the second one according to the demanding needs. The one who was solely getting all the attention now slowly losing it, and in this process the child tries his/her maximum level to seek the attention and also throws tantrums, cries, becomes moody or fails to manage emotions.

The age gap between siblings also plays an important role. Children who have less age gap might have minimum level of understanding. Elementary school age children have the concept of fairness and equality. So whenever the younger one receives extra care they think it is not fair. Thus they fight for equality. Among teens the level of rivalry is different. As teens seek independence they might feel resentful whenever the younger one’s responsibility is handed over to them. Sometimes children learn the concept of rivalry from modelling the adult’s behavior. Doing favours for one child over another, complementing only one child leaving the other one or setting up unhealthy competitions between the siblings are the main reasons which make the rivalry worst.

Here are few guidelines for parents as what can they do about it.

Take away the labels:

Children are mostly labelled for their personality. It can be either positive or negative. As a parent, when you label your child, automatically you are providing a path for them to call by different names or tease.

Provide them enough attention:

This is one of the most difficult tasks and also you may wonder the importance of giving attention. Children who feel like they are left out or genuinely seek attention are in need of that. Choose tasks (by keeping away all the distractions) for which you can spend 10 to 15 minutes so that children understand you are available for them.

Let them play together but peace is a factor too:

Though it is obvious that fight arises as siblings play together, you cannot always separate them. Remember the ultimate goal is to bring harmony among them, and so let them play together, do tasks together, and do household chores as it makes them realise the importance of working together.

Add it’s not my cup of tea rule:

When siblings get into arguments or physical fights, immediately parents intervene and find out a solution. But do not interfere unless you don’t know stories from both the sides. This lessens the favourtism tendencies. Your main agenda is to fix the problem or calm down the situation, and not to argue who is right or wrong. If siblings argue for breaking the toy, it is necessary for you to identify and fix the problem instead of blaming the one who broke it.

Though rivalry is common, you need to take specialist’s help when it turns out to be uncontrollable. Sometimes children’s temperamental state too makes them problematic. Comparing the siblings will always make the rivalry worst. Hence, all that the parents need to do is control the situation.

Image by Mabel Amber

Ramya E.

The author is a counselor and lifeskills trainer who has trained over 2000 students. She holds an M.Sc. in Psychology.

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