Jousting for attention

Sibling rivalry

Jousting for attention

Are you jealous of your brother’s athletic prowess or mildly annoyed that your sister excelled in academics and garnered all your parents' attention and praise?

Do you still believe that your parents loved your sibling more than you?

Young children may feel that they need to fight for their parents' love and attention. And parents find it hard to treat each child exactly the same. Because each child is inherently different.

Experts say that some children who experience sibling rivalry early in childhood, continue to experience it into adulthood but if handled correctly it can be an invaluable life lesson – Life is not fair.

We are all made differently even when we come from the same gene pool.

 “Parents have to understand that there will always be sibling rivalry and taking a neutral stance during sibling feuds can be beneficial. Parents should also refrain from comparing children, ideally sign kids up for separate activities according to their abilities and readily offer praise when siblings encourage and support one another,” says child counsellor Sujata Menon.

Karun is the middle child with one older and one younger brother.
“Middle child syndrome does sometimes mean that when the other two are upto mischief, I end up getting blamed,” he laughs good naturedly, adding, “our most intense rivalry comes from watching football matches as we each support rival teams! We used to quarrel so much during matches that dad had to buy three separate television sets just to stop the squabbling!” But that’s as far as it goes, he says.

Though children in large families often get labelled and these labels can impact how we think, feel, act and behave right through our adult life.

 Some will be the 'baby of the family', some the clowns who are never taken seriously, some the hard working, sensible ones, while some are dismissed as chronic underachievers or ‘black sheep’.

Often the most intense rivalry is sparked off between ‘the fun but silly one’, and the ‘over-achieving ambitious one destined for success'.

Prerana and Pranav are just two and a half years apart and are extremely close.
“Luckily for us, sibling rivalry probably ensued in its mildest form when Pranav went off to college and my parents were totally focused on him for a short spell. We are now very close, exchange confidences and hang out together. Since he is working, he also pampers me,” enthuses Prerana.

She also credits him with inspiring her to play basketball and helping her to make it to the college team.

Sujata says that parents must acknowledge that some kids with very different personalities may not ever really get along.

However, they can be taught how to mutually respect one another from an early age. It is a necessary skill that will carry them into adulthood and play a role in all their later relationships and interactions.

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