How to overcome sibling rivalry
What is sibling rivalry? I always feel that my siblings are given more importance than me. Whenever my parents praise my sibling, I feel bad. My mood...
What is sibling rivalry? I always feel that my siblings are given more importance than me. Whenever my parents praise my sibling, I feel bad. My mood gets off and I become upset. What may be the causes and how to overcome this problem? - Susmita, Hyderabad 'Sisterhood and brotherhood is a condition people have to work with'- Maya Angelou Sibling rivalry is a common problem in homes with adolescents. Life is full of rivalry or competition and the teenage years are no exception. Sibling rivalry is something that even the best of families will encounter at some point. Causes The main reason for sibling's fight is to get attention from their parents. It can be hard sharing parents with another brother and/or sister. They might feel that the other sibling receives more attention and that they have to act up in order to get notice. Competing with each other for this attention can lead to many arguments. An American research suggested that chronic fights over personal space and equality in the household between adolescent siblings can trigger feelings of anxiety, depression and low-self esteem. Another reason for siblings to fight is jealousy. Feelings of jealousy can arise for a variety of reasons. Teens might be jealous over their sibling's looks, talents, accomplishments or friends. They could be jealous over how much time their parents spend with another sibling. Other reasons and causes for sibling rivalry may include, Age difference Siblings of the same age might have to share clothes or items. Older teens who have much younger siblings have to deal with being a role model. They might have to cope with the brother and/or sister following them around all the time and to be like them. Birth order Firstborns might be jealous of time that parents spend with the younger kids in the family. They might resent the fact that because they are older; they are expected to be more independent. Middle children might feel ignored, while the youngest one's might feel excluded by older siblings. Having to share Sharing materialistic items, such as clothes, rooms or personal belongings with siblings. If siblings are close in age they share time with common friends that might create competition. Boredom Teens that don't have much else to do might choose to pick a fight with a sibling for entertainment purposes. Outside stressors Situations such as divorce, family illness, school problems and peer pressure can cause teens to be stressed out. If teens don't know how to handle their stress appropriately, they might end up taking it out on their siblings. If we can set the stage for positive sibling relationships in adolescence right around the time they're about to go their separate ways, it can help later on down the road, Tips for handling your rivalry feelings Before you act, take deep breaths: Take 10 deep breaths are all you need to regain your temper and keep yourself from saying or doing something you'll regret. If you stay composed, you might actually be able to resolve the argument peacefully. Don't let their words get to you: They're only words, after all. No matter how nasty your brother or sister treats you, be the mature one: instead of fighting back with more insults, just walk away. Pick your fights: Most fights between siblings aren't even worth fighting. Ask yourself, "Do I really care about winning this argument?" If the answer's no, save your breath. l Go to your parents: if it's a serious problem that you can't solve yourself. And don't approach them in the heat of the fight. Wait a couple of hours, and if you still want to involve your folks, sit down with them and make your point in a mature, even tone, as if you were an adult, too. l Give them space. You absolutely need to take a couple of hours a day to have sibling-free time. If you don't have your own room, then do some of your homework at the library, or find a spot to volunteer, or go for a jog. Consider making a pact with your sibling to respect closed doors. l Give yourself a break. There's no use aiming for a perfect relationship with your brother or sister, because perfect relationships with siblings don't exist. Know that it's normal to feel jealous, annoyed or frustrated every once in a while. Cherish the happy times with them, even if they're rare occurrences. Tips for Parents to Manage Rivalry l As teens get older, direct mediation is not required, but rules are. As a parent, if you jump in to their argument, it might make it worse. It reinforces fighting as a way to get your attention. Of course, there are limits � you cannot allow them to scream at the top of their lungs or hurt each other. The most important rule to set is on physical violence. Make it clear to your children that physical violence is not allowed. Teen's that would never even think to touch another person, are usually the ones who will take the first swing at their brother or sister. Set up consequences before the act occurs. Spend some time alone with each child Recognise that each child is different and do something separately that the specific child likes. Everyone has their own talents and interests. Take the time to bring these out in each child. Try not to make one child's interest more important than the others. Praise each child for who they are and not just for what they can do. Give them a Forum If your teenagers know that there is a time and a place to air their grievances, they will use it. For example, you could have weekly family meetings or have an open policy to discuss issues after dinner. Insist they are respectful to their sibling as they air their grievances, but do hear them out. No problem is too small. Recognise cooperative behavior If your teenagers are able to work out a problem, take notice and give some praise. This will reinforce cooperation and help with future 'battles'.