Kids: Getting Along With Siblings
Kids Health, Kevin J. Took, MD, July 2004
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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
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.
The Green-Eyed Monster
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
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 to 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.
How To Stop Fighting
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. You and your sibling might be able to
patch things up by talking to a professional, like a
psychologist, psychiatrist, therapist, or social worker, who
understands your rivalry problems.
This can really make a difference, according to one family
therapist who said, "Sometimes just talking about the problem is
the biggest step in solving it. Your parent may not realize how
you feel and once he or she knows, positive changes can be made
to make you feel included in the family life again."
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.
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