Roughly, every human who grew up in the world with a sibling can advocate that there is no stopping sibling rivalry. Humans are born with the natural instinct to create and resolve conflicts, resulting in tension between siblings. There are numerous reasons for the occurence of sibling rivalries. Most cases revolve around jealousy and the need for attention. The will to be unique, along with constant jealousy and attention seeking creates the sibling rivalry. Everyday actions and the way the family acts also influence the behavior of the children toward each other. With every cause, comes an effect and with sibling rivalry, there are positive and negative effects. Fortunately, the results are typically positive and positive relationships emerge, but there are certain cases where negative results show. There is no avoiding the rivalry and parents may do their best to pull the root of the problem but in the end, the rivalry and struggle are often worth the positive relationship.
“I wish I was an only child”. “Why does my younger sister get more freedom then I do”, or even more aggressive statements like “My older brother is being such an asshole today” are all phrases that can be heard from the mouth of a child with one or more siblings. Any person who grew up with a sibling, I am sure can attest to the fact that sibling conflict or rivalry is a large part of a sibling’s relationship. The tension and physical or emotional conflict are inevitable for several reasons. The jealousy, uniqueness, attention factor, and family life are all aspects that contribute to sibling rivalry, and with every cause, there is an effect. The continuous sibling rivalry produces positive benefits, positive relationships, and a unique life. The negative outcomes are bad relationships or underachievement in life.
Children are competitive beings and focus, primarily, on equality and the actions of their brothers and sisters. The causes are impossible to prevent, however, sibling rivalry is not always a bad thing. The instinctive, competitive factor often gives children with sibling rivalries an edge, if used correctly. Saying this, siblings battle head to head or through their parents as a sign of jealousy, inattentiveness, or just pure nature.
Jealousy is the driving factor in almost all mental conflicts that occur in the household. Often, a child believes that his or her brother or sister is better, smarter, funnier, more driven, or will have more overall success in life and that causes tension in a child’s mind. One child may be looked at as the “golden child” and the idea of having a sibling who outshines him or her as an individual trigger the competitive nature, thus resolving in some form of conflict, such as physical encounters.
Along with jealousy is attention. Attention comes into play from the aspect of how the child feels the parent treats him or her in a relation to the siblings. Often, a parent, whether they mean to or not, gives more attention to one child than another. This can be seen in a situation where a three or four-year-old is dissatisfied with an upcoming baby because the young child is receiving less attention. The quote, “Why does my younger sister get more freedom then I do” is an example of how children feel less attention and that sense of less attention causes aggravation. Loss of attention can also lead to a child’s attempt to gain attention, such as starting a fight with another sibling or teasing.
“Each child is competing to define who they are, they try to find their own talents, activities, and interest. They want to show that they are unique” (Boyse 2014). This quote exemplifies another factor of sibling rivalry, individuality or uniqueness. It is part of a way to stand out. All siblings want to be different in their own way whether it is playing a different sport or living a separate lifestyle. Several families contain an athlete, a scholar, or maybe a socializer. Point is, siblings, develop their own expertise to stand out and this competition creates tension and conflicts between siblings.
The dynamics of the family household are influencing factors on the behavior of children. If the children become bored, stressed, hungry, irritated, etc. then their natural will to tease and stir up fights will increase. Also, the behavior of their role models affects their ability to resolve fights. If parents of children yell a lot or a family member they see a lot of yells or supports physical behavior then fighting will occur more frequently.
Sibling rivalry is within just about every household that contains two or more children and the degree of which the rivalry occurs may be a positive influence or a negative one. Childhood is the building blocks of life and it is the time when personality and character development, which makes the effects of sibling rivalry that much more important. Child rivalries are most relevant when the siblings are close in age. As children, the minds of siblings are premature and their actions demonstrate the fact. However, once their mind matures, siblings often bond off of their childish relationships and the many fights that occurred in their childhood.
The positive influences of sibling rivalry are individuality and positive relationships. The constant bickering and battling tend to ease as siblings grow up and they begin to appreciate each other more and more likely than not, a positive relationship evolves. Also, with the several years of rivalry comes the skill to deal and cooperate with other points of view or personality, which can be vital in certain aspects of life. Aside from a positive relationship, it enables children in a family to explore different areas of expertise. One may grow up and be an outdoorsy type, while the other is a city dweller that loves working or even an author.
Unfortunately, to every positive, there is a negative and in this situation, there are two large negative effects. First, there may be a bad relationship. A loss of communication or overall neglect may form if the sibling rivalry as children carries over into adulthood. Also, sibling rivalry may cause underachievement. With an older or younger sibling who is far more successful than the other, that sibling may fall far short of the life they planned on and seem useless compared to their sibling.
Every parent with more than one child has at some point experienced the agony of sibling rivalry in the household. It is an inevitable situation but can only be handled once it arises. The causes of attention, jealousy, uniqueness, and family life create much of the battle that occurs. Fortunately, mostly good evolves from the competitive nature of sibling rivalry but there is a chance it may have a negative impact on a person for the rest of their lives. A person’s brothers and sisters tend to be some of the most important and influential people in his or her life and the years of fierce rivalry often result in an everlasting, loving relationship.