Sibling Rivalry: The Big Picture

Fighting Kids Frustrated Mom

For people, who grew up in single child households, understanding the concept of sibling rivalry can be difficult.





After all, single children would have loved to have a playmate to grow up with, and have company at all times.

Siblings however, don’t always see it this way.

Whether you grew up as an only child or whether you get along swimmingly with your siblings, sibling rivalry may come as a shock to some parents. Here are some important things you need to understand about sibling rivalry:

  • Sibling rivalry usually begins right after the second child is born. The older child can feel threatened by the presence of the new baby, and may not understand why mom and dad can’t spend as much time with him as they used to. This jealousy can become the basis for sibling rivalry for years to come.
  • Part of the struggle of sibling rivalry has to do with self-identification. Children are trying to figure out who they are, what their own interests are, what they do well, and what they want to do. They want to be seen as separate individuals from their siblings
  • In some cases, sibling rivalry is an attempt to get attention. One child may be seeking attention from the other, or a child might be seeking attention from her parents. Children often have difficulty finding positive ways to seek attention, and so they often pick fights with one another instead.
  • Sibling rivalry is more common among families where the parents believe that fighting is normal. A little bit of sibling rivalry is bound to happen from time to time, but those parents who accepted as fact or even seem to encourage it will experience a lot more of it.

It’s important to understand what really causes sibling rivalry. You need to know that your child isn’t mean, that they don’t hate your brother or sister, and that constant fighting between siblings is not normal. Next time, we’ll talk about some ways to avoid sibling rivalry, as well as some ways to handle sibling rivalry when it does rear its ugly head.


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