In a house with more than one kid, there are bound to be some problems. Brothers and sisters borrow stuff, and don't always return it in top condition. Younger kids sometimes feel like the older kids get to do whatever they want. Older brothers and sisters think that the baby of the family gets more attention. These are typical problems found throughout the ages, everywhere in the world.
When brothers and sisters don't get along, it's called sibling rivalry (say: SIH-bling RYE-vul-ree). A sibling is a brother or sister and rivalry means competition. It's normal, but too much competition can make for an unhappy home life.
Let's talk about getting along with brothers and sisters. They're not so bad, are they?
What Is Sibling Rivalry?
A little competition isn't a bad thing. Sometimes it can keep you working hard — like when you and your brother spend time shooting hoops. If he's good at it, it may make you want to improve, too. But some sibling rivalry involves arguing, like when you think your brother is hogging the ball. People who love each other might argue sometimes, but too much fighting is unpleasant for everyone.
Have you ever heard of the green-eyed monster called jealousy? Sometimes brothers and sisters are jealous of one another. For instance, if your sister always does well at school, it may be frustrating for you, especially if your grades are lower.
Although you're probably proud of your sibling or siblings, it's normal to be a little jealous, too. It may make you feel better to focus more on doing your own personal best, rather than comparing yourself with a brother or sister.
All kids want attention from their parents, but sometimes you need to take turns. If you're feeling ignored or like your sibling is always in the spotlight, talk to your mom or dad. If a parent knows you're feeling left out, together you can figure out ways to help you feel better again.
Don't Lose Your Cool
Sometimes when you're jealous and frustrated, it's easy to lose your temper. Try to follow these tips to avoid getting into a fight with your brother or sister:
- Take a deep breath and think a bit. Try to figure out if you are angry with the person or just frustrated with the situation.
- Remind yourself that you have special talents. Your sister may have won an art contest, but you might be better at basketball, or math, or singing. Eight-year-old Marisa says her brother "always wins running races, but I always get gold stars for good homework grades and that makes me feel better."
- Try to congratulate your siblings on their achievements and share their happiness. If you do this for them, they'll be more likely to do it for you.
Hopefully, these tips will work. But if the situation gets out of control and you and your brother or sister start fighting a lot, you may need to talk to someone. Mean words can lead to hitting and physical fighting. If this is going on with you and your sibling, talk to a parent or another trusted adult.
It may be hard to believe now, but your brother or sister may turn out to be your best friend someday. Many brothers and sisters fight and compete with each other while growing up but become very close when they get older. As you grow up, your friends might change, but your family is your family forever.
Reviewed by: D'Arcy Lyness, PhD
Date reviewed: September 2013