"Sibling rivalry can be defined as competition, animosity, and negative behaviour among brothers and sisters."Sibling rivalry is also sometimes seen as being about power struggle and according to a famous psychologist, Dr Alfred Adler, a "subconscious strive for power". Experts have found that there is no ‘perfect age-gap’, as every family is unique and different, and the family should work out what may suit the needs of the family best. However, it would also not be uncommon to find that the intensity of sibling rivalry increases from age 2 until the child reaches about 5 to 6 years. This is because the siblings begin to be more aware and start to take note of how their parents treat them and engage in comparisons.
In addition, many experts believe that the reason that siblings of the same gender experience more sibling rivalry than siblings of opposite gender has less to do with the actual gender of the siblings than it does with other aspects of the situation. For example, siblings of the same gender are often asked to share a bedroom. They may often feel as though they have little or no personal space, and that their sibling is responsible. In some cases, especially when siblings of the same gender are close together in age, they may compete even for things like who gets the bed nearest to the window.
For very young toddlers or preschoolers, it is widely encouraged that parents prepare their older child or children as soon as the journey of their new addition begins. Assure the older child that with the arrival of the baby, his position will not be threatened and that you will continue to love him as much.
Tell your child about your pregnancy when you tell your friends. Your child needs to hear about it from you, not from someone else.
Get your older child acquainted with the new baby before birth. For example. show him pictures of a baby growing in mommy's belly. Let him pat the baby beneath the bulge, talk to baby, and feel baby kick. Replay the older child's babyhood. Sit down with your child and page through his baby photo album. Show him what he looked like right after birth, coming home from the hospital, nursing, and having his diaper changed. By replaying the older child's baby events, he will be prepared for a replay of her brother or sister.
Prepare your child realistically that the young baby will be very helpless, needs care and may even cry a lot. The older sibling should also not expect the young infant to be able to play with him until a few years later.
Prepare your child for any potential temporary separation and make the necessary caretaking arrangements in ahead of time. This is especially important where there is unpredictability in when you have to go to the hospital to deliver the baby. Involve the older sibling by giving him the responsibility of calling the grandparents to announce the baby's arrival. But do not overplay the return of the baby as it may threaten the confidence of the older child in his position in the family.
For older siblings who are of school-going age, you may also find that he is keen to be involved in the care process. Having a baby in the home also allows him a wonderful opportunity to act in a grown-up role.
Be prepared to expect some levels of resentment. Some younger children may express jealousy with blunt and frank comments. If resentment and jealousy are detected, allow your older child to express his fears and feelings but with a firm rule stating that at all times, no violence is accepted in the home.
Do not leave a young toddler or pre-schooler alone with the baby until later when bonding is more firmly established.
Sibling rivalry is perfectly normal. The battle between brothers and sisters is one of the most basic and universal of family relationships. As parents, you do not have to eliminate sibling rivalry. Rather, it can be constructive if it is managed well.
There are many reasons as to why siblings and children fight. Very often, it is not uncommon for siblings to experience some degree of jealousy or competition, this resulting in squabbles or arguments. Other factors that can cause siblings to fight include:
The information provided on this page does not replace information from your healthcare professional. Please consult your healthcare professional for more information.
Information provided by
Click here to search for another condition
Click here to search for medicine
Subscribe to our mailing list to get the updates to your inbox