Now that summer’s in full swing, your children are probably spending a lot more time playing together or doing other fun activities than they might during the school year. However great this extra bonding time is while it lasts, sibling rivalry can almost always be counted on to sneak its way into your summer plans. Although some sibling rivalry can be expected, is there a point where it can become a cause for concern?
Sibling rivalry is a common occurrence in any home with two or more children and usually occurs once the second child is born. Often times, siblings will switch back and forth between adoring each other and detesting each other, which can become very frustrating for parents. So why does it happen?
The answer is not that simple; there are many reasons as to why siblings fight. Siblings often become jealous of each other. They have a hard time sharing their parent’s attention and time, which can become especially difficult during the busy summer months. If your first child is having a hard time sharing your time and attention with a new sibling, he or she may start to feel left out and blame their sibling.
If children are constantly comparing their skills and abilities with each other, such as during summer sports, one child may feel inferior to another, possibly leading to feelings of frustration and anger. For this reason, it’s important for parents to provide equal attention, time and praise to all of their children.
However, it’s important to note that not all children seek out as much attention or reassurance from their parents as others do. For example, a laid back child may be satisfied with “doing their own thing” and not having their parent by their side, but an anxious child may need their parent to reassure him or her that things are okay more frequently.
Having a child with special needs may also impact sibling rivalry. Your child with special needs may not know how to gain positive attention from you and may engage in negative attention-seeking behaviors. Your child’s negative behaviors, in turn, may frustrate your other children to the point that they take this frustration out on your child with special needs, or using externalizing behaviors, which are commonly disruptive behaviors that may include poor anger management or defiant behavior.
If you believe your children may be struggling with an unhealthy level of sibling rivalry which may affect regular family functioning, or possibly their mental or physical health, contact Rogers Memorial Hospital for information on Child and Adolescent Day Treatment programming. Call 800-767-4411 for admissions or request a screening.