Sibling Rivalry

Sibling rivalry describes the competitive relationship between siblings. To some extent, nearly every household experiences sibling conflicts. There are many factors that influence and affect sibling rivalry. Most brothers and sisters experience some degree of jealousy or competition, and this can flare into bickering, whining and arguing to teasing, tormenting and physical aggression. Sibling conflict can occur as often as 7-8 times per hour!

Understanding the factors involved in sibling rivalry is important to determining the severity of conflict and identifying strategies to resolve or reduce it. These include the developmental age of the children, access to and availability of parental attention, individual temperaments, special needs/sick children, and role models for resolving household conflicts by the parents.

In some families, the conflict between brothers and sisters is so severe that it disrupts daily functioning, results in significant family/marital stress or significantly affects a child’s emotional development, self-esteem or mood. In addition, severe sibling rivalry can result in physical harm to a family member or be an indicator of other psychological issues, such as depression, school problems or anger. In these instances it is wise to seek professional help. The staff at Silber Psychological Services provides a variety of services to help your family cope and intervene with sibling rivalry. Treatment can involve individual therapy, family therapy, or parent consultation and is tailored to each family’s or individual’s needs. We can evaluate underlying causes and contributing factors to help develop a specialized intervention program, including family and individual goals. At Silber Psychological Services, our goal is to help families be proactive and prepared in managing sibling rivalry in order to improve harmony, happiness and positivity within the family environment.