Monday, November 15, 2010

Sibling Rivalry

Sibling rivalry is one of the most devastating problems that a family could experience.

It can lead to disunity in the family, lack of love and peace in the home.

I was a victim of sibling rivalry and till date my sister and I are at best polite to each other.

There is so much backstabbing going on between two siblings that are at loggerheads with each other.

But what is the cause of sibling rivalry?

One of the most obvious reasons is when one child begins to feel that the other is more favoured than him.

Sometimes it could be the parents that cause these feelings to arise, but then again, the parents might not have anything to do with it.

A child could begin to envy his sibling if the other child appears smarter, more popular or more intelligent.

Sometimes,  being better than the other child at something, e.g sports or maths or English could bring about this type of rivalry in the other child.

How do we stop sibling rivalry?

Well in my own experience, I don't think it could be stopped completely, but I believe that it can be managed.

1. Parents should be careful not to favour one child above the other. Easier said than done .

The problem is that we parents can do this without even knowing it. Care should be taken that we are not showing unusual favouritism to our child because he is the first born, first boy, last born, only boy, only girl or more intelligent, more handsome or beautiful or even more well behaved.

In short, nothing should make you show more favour to your child.
In Africa, some people believe that a particular child is a reincarnation of the grandfather or great grandfather etc.  As such, the child will be given more attention than others.

We as parents have the responsibility to ensure that all our children are equally treated. Having been given these children by God, we are not in the position to discriminate against any of our own children.

2. Parents should take note of sibling rivalry in their children. It is still allowed if such sibling rivalry is minimal. There will always be a kind of low level competition between our children.

For example, Zafir, my 8 year old son always wants to do what his ten year old brother Halim is doing. Last month, Halim began taking coaching lessons after school to enable him pass the exams that would take him to high school.

Guess what? Zafir insisted he wanted to attend the same coaching class. 

We agreed since we felt it would be a good experience for him.

However, we have told him that even if he takes part in the coaching lessons, participates in the exam and passes, only his brother will still be allowed to go to  high school next year because of his age and he agreed.

But when the rivalry is becoming too intense, parents should begin to try to manage it. Get the aggrieved child into something that you know he is good at so that he will have a feeling that he too is good at something.

Managing sibling rivalry when the children are still very young is the best way of curbing it or at least reducing it to a healthy level so that it does not turn to a full scale war as they grow older...

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