Kippen and Walters define sibling rivalry as “the competition, fighting, hatred, and jealousy between siblings” (575). This is a major psychological problem that affects many families across the world. Parents who have two (or more) children will at some point be forced to deal with this problem. Studies have shown clearly that the rivalry can continue for several years. This kind of rivalry can be stressful and aggravating to more parents. The astounding fact is that psychologists and researchers have ignored this kind of rivalry for years.
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Understanding Sibling Rivalry: Major Causes
Scholars believe that sibling rivalry is a natural occurrence that arises from the competition in the family. The provision of divided or unequal attention to children can trigger this kind of rivalry. The birth of another child causes feelings of hatred or enmity. Children in a given family will also have different developmental stages (Kippen and Walters 579). Such stages require adequate resources, care, and support from the parents. However, such children might not be able to understand this kind of requirement.
Parents who fail to resolve conflicts and empower their children equally will catalyze this kind of rivalry. Parents who ignore the stresses and challenges disorient the development of their children (Fox et al. 17). The support received from parents will dictate siblings’ interactions and relations. These issues should, therefore, be clearly understood before addressing the predicament.
Tackling Sibling Rivalry
Studies have indicated that sibling rivalry will occur in many families. However, parents and guardians should be informed in order to identify the best strategies to reduce the chances of rivalry. The first approach is for parents to treat all their children equally. It is also inappropriate to compare the children to each other (Fox et al. 17). The best thing is to offer adequate support that can promote positive relationships.
Parents should always be fair and provide enough space for every child. The individuals should be guided separately depending on their competencies or skill sets. The unique needs of the children should be met using personalized approaches (Faber and Mazlish 48). This measure will promote positive feelings and eventually reduce fights and insults.
The other critical issue revolves around the resolution of conflicts. It is agreeable that conflicts will always occur between brothers and sisters. The children should always be given the chance to express their views (Donrovich et al. 1181). They should be guided to acknowledge their mistakes and apologize to each other. Guardians should encourage them to be remorseful and apologetic. The conflicts should also be addressed at the right time.
Family meetings are also important whenever dealing with sibling rivalry. During such meetings, the individuals should be allowed to present their opinions, identify their mistakes, and come up with sustainable resolutions (Tucker and Finkelhor 6). Such meetings result in new concepts such as responsibility, respect, ad cooperation. The meetings promote self-esteem, love, and unity. These aspects have the potential to deal with sibling rivalry.
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The unaddressed rivalry between two brothers or sisters can get out of hand and eventually affect their developmental stages. Although adequate information is currently unavailable regarding this problem, parents and guardians should be on the frontline to promote the best practices to support their children’s welfare. Proper conflict resolution strategies will ensure the siblings have respect for each other (Faber and Mazlish 52). Future scholars should also come up with new notions to understand and deal with the problem of sibling rivalry.
Donrovich, Robyn et al. “Rivalry, Solidarity, and Longevity among Siblings: A Life Course Approach to the Impact of Sibship Composition and Birth Order on Later Life Mortality Risk, Antwerp (1846–1920).” Demographic Research, vol. 31, no. 38, 2014, pp. 1167-1198.
Faber, Adele, and Elaine Mazlish. Siblings Without Rivalry. W. W. Norton, 2012.
Fox, Jonathan et al. “The Consequences of Sibling Rivalry on Survival and Reproductive Success across Different Ecological Contexts: A Comparison of the Historical Krummhörn and Quebec Populations.” MPIDR Working Paper, vol. 1, no. 1, 2016, pp. 1-30.
Kippen, Rebecca, and Sarah Walters. “Is Sibling Rivalry Fatal? Siblings and Mortality Clustering.” The Journal of Interdisciplinary History, vol. 42, no. 4, 2012, pp. 571-591.
Tucker, Carolina, and David Finkelhor. “The Stage of Interventions for Sibling Conflict and Aggression: A Systematic Review.” Trauma, Violence, and Abuse, vol. 1, no. 1, 2015, pp. 1-11.