Sibling Rivalry

Watch for the Signs

If you hear your eldest child belittling their sibling's achievements, making comments like: 'Anyone could do that!', or 'You're such a know-all' or 'You think you're better than everyone else.' You'll know that they feel that they are losing their position of 'top dog'.

You may notice that they avoid participating in any activity where they can be directly compared with their brothers and sisters, in case they don't measure up.

What's the Problem?

The first step is to understand what lies behind the competitive behaviour. Listen to the grievances - they will reveal the origin of their feelings.

Older children will have grown accustomed to outshining their younger siblings at everything, but as children get older, the difference in their ages becomes less pronounced and the younger ones appear to catch up. It is not surprising if they get frustrated when their younger brother or sister comes up with the right answer before they do.

They feel threatened and challenged!

What can Parents do about it?

Everyone has special qualities and talents, and every child has merits that are different from their brothers and sisters.

Parents tend to over-emphasise the importance of academic achievement. When this is the case, older children who don't do as well at school inevitably begin to feel inadequate.

However school is only one area of your child's life and shouldn't determine their self worth. Consider their other qualities. Is he or she athletic, artistic, practical, a good cook, a natural comic, or good at making friends?

Help them by identifying their strengths and developing their confidence in their own unique abilities. Make sure they understand that the talents they possess are valued as highly as you appreciate those of their brothers and sisters.

Always avoid making direct comparisons between your children, and discourage high-achievers from gloating.

Little Brother

Researchers have found that boys with older sisters are often spoiled and babied by their mother, and that this is naturally resented by the sister.

Girls tend to mature earlier than boys, and it is easy for parents to overlook her needs. Although she may seem capable, it doesn't mean she wouldn't occasionally like to be made a fuss of and spoiled like her brother!

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