Creative Child

Stop This One Thing to End Sibling Rivalry

by Rebecca Eanes

Siblings fight. We’ve heard it so much that we accept it as fate, and so rather than proactively working to help siblings build a positive relationship, we resort to threats and consequences to make the fighting stop. What’s worse is that parents often fuel the rivalry they so desperately wish to end, and they don’t even realize they’re doing it. Let’s take a look at the most common parental behavior that forces siblings apart and how we can correct that behavior to put an end to the negative feelings that fuel rivalry.


From Siblings Without Rivalry by Adele Faber and Elaine Mazlish, a mother is describing her children to a neighbor saying “The little one is real gutsy, but the big one is afraid of his own shadow.” The children were standing there listening. This mother just made a common mistake that will set her kids on the paths to jealousy and resentment. She’s cast them into roles. There are lots of reasons why parents do this, such as attempting to bolster the child’s ego (this one is my star athlete), to bolstering our own (I hated being a shy kid and this one is popular and outgoing which makes me feel good), to projecting our weaknesses (my kid is a procrastinator because really so am I). 


What ends up happening, of course, is that the star athlete feels a huge pressure to keep being the star in your eyes while the “lesser” siblings feel bad about their athletic shortcomings and resent the star, or the gutsy kid might get a confidence boost from his mother’s words or he may feel he can’t ever be weak or vulnerable, but what about the child who is afraid of his own shadow? What’s he to believe about himself? Remember that children believe our evaluations of them, and they will play the role we cast them into. The child who gets the privileged role feels pressure to maintain it, and the other children become “second rate.”

1 of 2

You might also like.

Want more? Follow us.

Join our newsletter and get the latest updates!
Hit "Like" to see Creative Child on Facebook