Rivalry is fine, but not jealousy

Competition and emulation between siblings is normal, but when jealousy rears its ugly head, this healthy competition or emulation can degenerate into sibling rivalry.

Competition and emulation between siblings is normal, but when jealousy rears its ugly head, this healthy competition or emulation can degenerate into sibling rivalry.

Sibling rivalry may occur:

l when children do not receive adequate love and affection;

l when parents make comparisons between the appearance and talents of children;

l when one sibling is handicapped in any way;

l when one sibling is gifted;

l when parents try to settle differences by taking sides; and

l when parents show affection to or favour one child while neglecting another.

Siblings generally react by expressing rivalry by kidding or teasing, quarrelling, yelling and physical violence. If not handled correctly, the rivalry can leave lifelong scars and negatively affect all relationships even into adulthood.

Tips for defusing sibling rivalry:

l children need maximum attention during infancy. Keep a sufficient gap between one child and the next so that each child is able to receive the required share of attention.

l Connect with your child even before birth.

l After the sibling's arrival, gently evoke dormant parental instinct in older siblings. Help them understand and assume their protective and responsible role towards the new entrant.

l Recognise that each child may need a different measure of love and affection;

l Impartially devote special time to each child. - Victor Rodrigues on parenting website Great Dad.

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