Sibling relationships are often the longest-lasting relationships we have in our lives. Yet, sibling hostility and rivalry are common in many families, causing lasting emotional scars. As parents, it is our responsibility to foster healthy relationships between our children, starting from the moment the second child is born. In this blog, we will explore the causes and consequences of sibling hostility, as well as practical strategies for preventing and managing it. Whether you are a new parent or have grown children, the insights in this blog will help you create a nurturing family environment where love, respect, and cooperation thrive.
What is sibling hostility?
Sibling hostility is a broad term that encompasses a range of negative emotions and behaviours between siblings. It can include things like verbal and physical aggression, jealousy, competition, and resentment. Sibling hostility can be caused by a variety of factors, including differences in personality, age, gender, and parental treatment.
Why does sibling hostility happen?
Sibling hostility can arise for many reasons. In some cases, it may be due to unresolved conflicts or past hurts that have not been addressed. In other cases, it may be a result of one or both siblings feeling like they are not getting enough attention or love from their parents. Sibling hostility can also be caused by a lack of boundaries, unclear expectations, or a lack of communication.
How to prevent and manage sibling hostility?
Preventing and managing sibling hostility requires a combination of strategies that address both the root causes and the specific behaviours involved. Here are some tips for preventing and managing sibling hostility:
Encourage positive communication: Encourage your children to express their thoughts and feelings in a respectful and constructive manner.
Set clear boundaries: Establish clear rules and expectations for behaviour, and be consistent in enforcing them.
Foster positive relationships: Encourage your children to spend time together and find common interests.
Address conflicts early: When conflicts arise, address them promptly and help your children find constructive ways to resolve them.
Show love and support: Make sure that each child feels loved and supported, and that they understand that their parents value and appreciate them as individuals.
Short story – Sibling hostility
When he was six years old, John had always wished for a younger brother or sister. He yearned for someone he could play with and care for. So, when his parents had another child, he was over the moon. He was excited to take his little brother to school and watch him grow up. However, things didn’t turn out as he had imagined.
One day, John sat beside his baby brother’s crib and caressed his tiny fingers. But suddenly, the baby began crying for no apparent reason. As soon as their mother heard the cries, she immediately assumed that John had hurt the baby and hit him in anger. She even forbade him from going near his little brother again. When their father came home, she informed him of the incident, and he too repeated the same command. No one tried to understand John’s feelings or to find out the truth.
Heartbroken and resentful, John grew up with a growing distance between him and his younger brother. Even as they became adults, the bond between them never fully recovered.
This is just a story to explain the problem. But usually, after a certain age, they forget the childhood wounds and become great friends than brothers. Still, sometimes the past wound is disturbed, but it will heal.
Understand the emotional wounds
It’s a common phenomenon in families to observe that when a second child is born, the older child is often kept at a distance for no apparent reason. However, how many parents are aware of the emotional pain that this can create in their older children? It’s natural for there to be an age gap between siblings, but parents should never try to create distance or foster animosity between them. Instead, they should always strive to foster a bond of love and understanding between their children. Remember, threats affect children’s mental health.
Promote mutual love
It is true that some older children may show resentment towards their younger siblings, but this behaviour is not exclusive to older siblings. Nevertheless, it’s the responsibility of parents to prepare their older children for the arrival of a new sibling. They should teach them that the new arrival is not an enemy but a friend and that they should welcome them with open arms. By doing so, parents can promote mutual love and a warm, affectionate relationship between their children.
Treat your kids equally
It’s important for both the older and younger siblings to grow up as equals with equal rights in a family. When they quarrel or have conflicts, parents should refrain from taking sides and never say things like “Don’t go near him/her again.” Instead, it’s best to let the children solve their problems themselves. Children’s quarrels are usually short-lived and tend to resolve themselves in a few hours. If a parent takes sides, it can worsen the situation and even lead to long-lasting resentment between siblings. Therefore, it’s essential to promote a peaceful and harmonious relationship between siblings by allowing them to resolve their conflicts themselves.
Promote a healthy and loving relationship between siblings
In some families, the love and attention given to the older child may decrease following the birth of a younger sibling. This can cause deep emotional wounds in the older child. When they realize that the love and attention they once enjoyed has diminished suddenly, they can become depressed and resentful towards the newborn, whom they perceive as the cause of their deprivation. It’s important for parents to make sure that their older child feels valued and loved even after the arrival of a new baby. By doing so, they can prevent any feelings of resentment or bitterness from taking root, and promote a healthy and loving relationship between siblings. A healthy parent-child relationship is very important.
Don’t show favouritism towards one child
When parents show favouritism towards one child, it can cause other children to feel sad and neglected. It’s important for parents to treat all their children as equals and give them what they are due in terms of care and attention. There may be times when a child requires extra care due to poor health or age, but parents should explain to their other children why this is necessary. When children grow up without love for their siblings, parents may feel sad and blame their children. However, parents should also realize that they may have contributed to this situation by favouring one child over others. The seeds of hatred and resentment that are sown in childhood can grow into trees of animosity and cause siblings to become enemies when they grow up. It’s crucial for parents to foster love and respect between siblings to promote healthy and positive relationships that can last a lifetime. Children should have a healthy relationship with their parents.
In conclusion, sibling relationships are important and should be nurtured with care and consideration by parents. Children should be treated equally and given the same amount of love and attention. When parents create a distance between their children, it can lead to long-term resentment and animosity. It is important to remember that the seeds of love or hate that parents sow in their children’s hearts will grow into trees, and the kind of seeds parents plant will determine the kind of fruit that their children will bear in the future. Therefore, it is crucial for parents to create an environment of love and understanding in the family, where children can learn to love and support one another and grow up as equals.
How do you deal with sibling hostility?
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Mathukutty P. V. is the founder of Simply Life Tips. He is a Blogger, Content Writer, Influencer, and YouTuber. He is passionate about learning new skills. He is the Director of PokketCFO.
He lives with the notion of “SIMPLE LIVING, CREATIVE THINKING”. He Believes – “Sharing is caring.” and “Learning never ends.”