Brother-Sister Rivalries

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Brother-Sister Rivalries
Brother-Sister Rivalries

Brother-sister relationships are made up of complicity, shared memories and deep ties, but we have to admit - this relationship is sometimes also full of rivalry and jealousy…


A certain amount of rivalry is he althy between children in the same family because it pushes them to assert themselves and take their place. Some studies have even shown that the more we encourage the principle of equality between children, the more we feed this rivalry!

Let's settle something first: no one can love all their children equally. It's not about love and it's not a crime, it's simple reality. It is not because we have a weakness for one of our children that we do not like the other or the others. We like them differently, that's all. Just as we do not love our brothers and sisters the same way, nor our friends. Based on this principle, we must expect to be a little unfair when it comes time to decide between two children. And that's where you have to watch yourself because you can create problems rather than solve them.

There is no ideal age gap between any of the children. If the children are very close, they could be very complicit,but also very jealous. If the gap is too big, the older the children get, the less they have in common. The middle ground is between two and a half and three and a half years.

Preparing the eldest for the arrival of baby

The first signs of jealousy usually occur when the second child arrives. However, it is possible to ensure that this major change in everyone's roles goes smoothly. During your pregnancy, you will have to increase the number of conversations with the child so that he understands that the new baby in no way threatens his place, that he will always be your child, that you will always love it so much. Take advantage of these moments to remind him how it was when he was a baby, take out photos, watch videos. By dint of hearing you say that you love him, he will gain in confidence. Try visiting friends who have just had a baby, it will allow him to understand a little more the reality of the baby that is coming.

Although it is recommended to tell him your pride because he is now big, he sleeps in a big bed, he pees in the toilet, he helps you, be careful not to age it too quickly. When he sees the baby spending most of his time in your arms and not him because "he's grown up now", you could encourage him to regress in his behaviors in order to become again the baby who would have your full attention..

The Age Rivalry

In an ideal world, brother and sisterwould get along… like two sisters or two brothers! It is also a bit ironic to describe her best friend as being “a real sister to me”, when in reality, children from the same family often take years to find the right agreement. It is not uncommon for brother and sister to grow old without having anything in common and move away in adulthood, without ever having developed any particular affinity. Several factors come into play when it comes to assessing sibling rivalries: the sex of the children, their rank in the family, and the age difference between them will affect their behavior.

Before age 7

The child is self-centered and does not share easily. He is self-absorbed and does not understand that a lent toy will be returned to him later. He can scream and throw tantrums.

Between 7 and 10 years old

It's the period of "You're no longer my friend if you…", a sentence that is distributed to everyone at the slightest annoyance. As the child has reached the age of reason, we try to explain to him that blackmail only worsens relations and we lead him to find other solutions to express his dissatisfaction.

Between 10 and 14 years old

In-between period, the child can also be ambivalent, jumping on his brother/sister's neck one minute and sending him for a walk the next. As at this age they have developed a sense of what is right, give them a chance to settle their disputes themselves and only intervene.when the going gets tough.

After 14 years

This is adolescence and its hormonal, family and social upheavals. It is from there that the future adult is formed the most. He will develop moral principles and personal ethics based on the values instilled in him from a very young age. Since he is more withdrawn, conflicts may develop with siblings, but usually this is only for a while.

Recognize jealousy

A child will show jealousy in many different ways, but his behavior is certain to change and, by being attentive to his reactions to the arrival of a new baby for example, you will notice the changes and be able to intervene better.

A jealous child will tend to:

  • trying to get attention to withdraw;
  • to be often sullen;
  • no longer wanting to do usual activities;
  • show big signs of affection to father to make mom jealous;
  • wanting to be picked up and carried;
  • behaving like a baby (thumb sucking, peeing in panties, asking to wear diapers or drink from a bottle);
  • disobey orders;
  • doing stupid things on purpose;
  • try to hit or bite the baby.

Watch out for …

  • obvious preferences. We are not always aware of it, but when we find excuses for the same child at the expense of another, it isobvious that we are fueling the rivalry rather than calming it;
  • comparisons that are so easy to make because one is jovial and the other taciturn, because one is sporty and the other artistic. Remember that children ARE different and no one benefits from comparisons;
  • preferences related to the sex of the child. By dint of repeating that you have always wanted a girl – or a boy –, the other can only feel rejected because he is not “the right sex”;
  • reactions you have to the rivalry between your children. If you forbid it altogether, you risk fueling it. On the other hand, indifference to this situation does not solve anything either.

Tips to reduce rivalries

  • You can get a doll that looks like a baby, with a few items like diapers, a bottle, a little blanket, and when you get home, you can give your eldest the responsibility of " his own baby. He will do like you and feel less left out.
  • Set aside quality time and privacy for each of your children. It doesn't have to last for hours, the important thing is that everyone feels that they matter to you and that they always have their place.
  • Never force the child to be interested in his younger brother. He will do it naturally, in time and place.
  • Never leave the baby and your firstborn alone together, because he could hurt the baby, without doing it on purpose or to show his annoyance.
  • Make sure thatthe baby is not the only center of attention during the visit, especially if everyone arrives with a baby gift. Remember to buy him a small gift and take the opportunity to praise his qualities in front of others.
  • Let him help you with baby, by fetching the diaper, pajamas or a toy.

For older children

  • Try to let them solve their own problems without taking sides.
  • Don't reproach them without giving them time to agree.
  • Don't ask ‹‹ who started it ››, you will only add to the tension between them.
  • Reward good relations and not arguments, even if it is to comfort one of the children.
  • Make clear rules about what is not acceptable behavior (name calling, hitting, etc.)
  • Never condone aggressive behavior.
  • Encourage them to resolve their conflicts by talking, by explaining themselves rather than by arguing. It won't work all the time, but the message will eventually get through.
  • Give them a task to do together.

If you feel the need to delve deeper into the subject, there are many books both for adults who are trying to see things more clearly and for children aged 2 to 11 struggling with these rivalries that threaten the world. family harmony. We have prepared for you a special list containing several suggestions.

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