Health Tips

No Fair! The Sounds of Sibling Rivalry

girl hugging boyAnyone with a sibling — or who is a parent to siblings — knows that siblings fight. They wrestle, pull hair, call each other names, tattle and step on each other’s toys. Most of the time, strong words and actions between siblings is normal and helps children figure out how to solve their own problems. However, nonstop, daily abuse can have very serious consequences.

Imagine if you had to live with your school bully? When sibling fights cross over into sibling bullying, it can be emotionally, mentally and physically damaging to a child. In a recent issue of Pediatrics, researchers examined varying degrees of sibling aggression including name calling, stealing personal property, breaking things on purpose and physical assault. Children on the receiving end experienced significant mental distress — as much or more than those bullied by peers at school.

Guidelines for helping siblings to get along

When children have a sense of being treated equally in the home, sibling rivalry rates are far lower. Here are some guidelines you can follow to help your siblings get along better:

If you have a child who is consistently aggressive (verbally and/or physically) to his or her sibling, it is time for a more serious intervention. Talk to your pediatrician for advice on how to handle the problem.

Reviewed by: Patrick S. Pasquariello Jr., MD
Date: July 2013

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