Portraits of Sibling Rivalry

By Peter Pak Disoza

A distraught mom confides to you, I would not believe it if I had not seen it with my own eyes. The moment I turned around John belted his brother right in the gut. I do not know what to do now I am afraid to leave them alone together!

Before the baby was born, 3-year-old Georgia was thrilled about becoming a big sister. But now she is crying more, pouting, throwing temper tantrums, and she has started sucking her thumb again. We just do not have time for this misbehavior of yours with the new baby here, her parents tell her.

Carrie called her brother as soon as she heard the news; I passed the board exam with flying marks! she exclaimed. Well I am about to make partner, Steve retorted. Yeah, in Delaware, she volleyed back, I’ll be working in DC.

The term sibling rivalry was introduced in 1941 by David Levy. He claimed that for older siblings “the aggressive response to the new baby is so typical that it is safe to say it is a common feature of family life.” However, sibling rivalry has a much longer history. The first brothers in the Bible, Cain and Abel, were bitter rivals, and Cain’s contention with his brother eventually led to Abel’s death.

No one knows how Adam and Eve dealt with Cain and Abel’s rivalry, but we do know that many parents do not consider the issue of sibling rivalry until it is a serious problem. Sibling rivalry is often understood as a hostile competition between brothers and sisters.

During childhood, common symptoms of sibling rivalry are:

* Hitting, kicking and fighting

* Yelling or name calling

* Refusing to share or stealing from siblings

* Trying to outdo a sibling

* Trying to monopolize the parental attention (using good behavior or bad)

* Trying to get the other sibling in trouble

* During adulthood, common symptoms of sibling rivalry are:

* Trying to outperform the other

* Trying to earn more money that the other

* Trying to attain a higher social status that the other

* Trying to blame the other for family problems

* Trying to secure the role as a parents favorite child

There are several different views for why sibling rivalry exists. One is the Freudian/Psychoanalytic view:

Sigmund Freud, as many know, made many observations (and assumptions!) about the human condition. One of them was the Oedipus complex, the idea that children are in competition with the parent of the same sex for the attention and love of the parent of the opposite sex. According to psychoanalytic thought, sibling rivalry might be an extension of this struggle because like the parent of the opposite sex a sibling is also competition.

Another is the evolutionary psychology view: With this view, the issue is one of survival or the fittest. That is, the competition for limited old resources (such as food, shelter, and protection. In humans, the needs are social as well, such as the need for 1-on-1 time and attention, love, and approval from parents). In nature, when two animals compete for the same old resources, they will often fight until one drives the other away, leaving the victor with the exclusive use of the old resources available.

There are some extreme cases of sibling rivalry, in nature. For example: Within the womb of a mother shark, the strongest baby shark will devour all of his unborn siblings.Within the high nests of eagles, the first baby eagle to hatch kills all his/her siblings by pushing them out from the nest as they hatch from their own eggs.

Surely a phone counselor will provide you further details.

Sibling relationships in nature are not always so ruthless. In fact, wolf cub siblings are a sharp contrast. With wolves, older cubs actually help to care for, feed, and guard the young! Therefore, it is the task of human parents to make their children more like wolves, and less like sharks or eagles. When a young child meets a baby brother or sister, there are several common reactions. Sometimes they are positive, such as feelings of Important for being an older sibling, gratitude for the sibling, excitement, responsibility, and love. However, often the reactions are negative.

http://eCounseling.com is the leading provider of online counseling and telephone counseling technologies, and exists to connect people who hurt with people who help, 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. eCounseling.com was created by counselors who perceived a need for better online counseling methods. eCounseling.com now boasts a full range of distance and in-person counseling capabilities in video and text chat, HIPAA-compliant secure email, and fully searchable counselor listings, all organized strategically around the top 40 most commonly seen counseling issues. Its directors include Dr. Peter Disoza, who practices therapy at Thrive Boston Counseling.

Leave a Reply