Almost every household with more than one child faces the dilemma of sibling rivalry. Some children fight for their parent’s love, others may fight over their belongings. Through this article, we will explore the different reasons why brothers and sisters fight so much.
Why Do Brothers And Sisters Fight So Much?
There are many reasons why brothers and sisters fight so much. Some of those reasons are listed below:
- Constant Competition
- Seeking Parent’s Attention
- Difference In Personalities
- Too Much Happening In Their Lives
- Age Difference
- Order of Birth
- Attachment to One Parent
- Spilling Secrets
- Dominant Personality
- Separation Anxiety
Brothers and Sisters have to compete for pretty much everything. At times, they are constantly compared to their siblings by their parents and society.
For instance, if the older sibling is a model student, the younger sibling is compared by their teachers, other students, as well as their parents on their performance.
Another example is when there are family gatherings, brothers and sisters want to seem like the less problematic child, so they try to provoke their sibling and cause a fight, showing that they are not to be blamed, their sibling is.
Sometimes children feel the need to compare themselves to their siblings even though others may not, so they try to go out of their way to excel in academics or sports, to get their parent’s approval.
Seeking Parent’s Attention
Children often fight or cause fights just to get their parent’s attention. When brothers or sisters feel that they are not getting enough attention from their parents, they turn on their siblings and instigate a fight with them.
In families with two or more children, the brothers and sisters are constantly fighting over who their parents love more. You may have heard many older siblings telling their younger siblings that they are adopted or that they were found in a ‘garbage dump’.
It takes time for the older sibling to accept that their parent’s love is divided after the birth of the younger sibling(s). They tend to become jealous and possessive once the second child is born.
Difference in Personalities
Although they are related by blood, brothers and sisters don’t necessarily need to have similar personalities. Most of the time, they end up fighting due to the differences in their personalities.
When brothers and sisters have nothing in common, they find it difficult to find a common ground to build a connection on. They may fight over what to watch on TV, or where to go on their next family trip, or what they want to eat for dinner.
Their tastes, choices and interests differ and these differences trigger more fights until one of them decides to try to show interest in the other’s likes and dislikes.
Too Much Happening In Their Lives
Many times, brothers and sisters may fight because of things happening in their personal lives. They may be going through a breakup, or a fight with a friend which they in turn, take out on their siblings.
Sometimes work pressure, academic pressure or stress can also lead to fights between brothers and sisters. Puberty is often a major factor that can lead to fights. A child going through puberty is more irritable and less patient to deal with their sibling’s tantrums.
Some children may be dealing with substance abuse which also reduces their patience level and increases mood swings and irritability. They tend to take out their frustrations on their younger siblings.
Research has proven that the lesser the age gap between two brothers and sisters, the more likely they are to fight. Lower age difference enables the child to think of their sibling as an equal and thus, compete for everything.
When there is a significant age difference between siblings, there is a higher chance of the older sibling looking after the younger one and creating a bond. The older sibling acts like a third parent to the younger sibling and feels responsible for them.
At a higher age difference, the older child is more mature than the younger one and hence, is more patient and understanding towards them. They also tend to pamper and spoil their younger brother or sister.
However, a greater age gap can also lead to fights as there is less common ground between the older sibling and the younger one.
Order of Birth
Birth order really matters when it comes to analyzing the reasons why brothers and sisters fight. The youngest sibling is always pampered and spoiled the most, so they are used to always getting their way.
The youngest sibling tends to throw more tantrums and even shed some crocodile tears when they fear they may not get what they want. The eldest sibling fights for space and privacy which the younger sibling at times fails to provide.
The younger siblings tend to manipulate their parents for new things whereas the older sibling always needs to work for it and earn it. Most often, younger siblings are excused from household chores whereas the older sibling is given additional responsibilities.
These kinds of younger sibling privileges lead the older ones to fight with them.
Attachment To One Parent
Ever heard of the phrases, “Mama’s boy” and “Daddy’s girl”?
It is more likely for daughters to be emotionally closer to their fathers, and sons to be more emotionally attached to their mothers.
This triggers fights for attention between the siblings. One sibling may complain to their mother or father about their ‘favourite child’, indicating jealousy, which in turn makes their sibling feel that their brother/sister is unsupportive.
This kind of attachment can initiate fights between siblings, accusing parents of taking sides. Even though parents remain impartial, children still feel that they may be biased towards their ‘favourite’ child.
Brothers and sisters tend to share their secrets with their siblings or friends more easily than with their parents. They feel they can confide in them and seek advice from them.
When siblings fight, they blackmail their brother or sister about spilling their secrets. They use it as a tool to manipulate their siblings to get what they want.
Sometimes, they even catch their siblings breaking rules or doing something that would get them in trouble and use it as leverage to get their way or make them do things for them.
Children are always reluctant to share their belongings with their brothers and sisters. If you touch a child’s toy, you’ll see them snatching it away from you and saying, “it’s mine”.
At times, when siblings have a close bonding, they may get possessive over each other. So, if their brother or sister gets too close to a friend, they may feel jealous and act out by picking a fight.
Similarly, if two siblings are very close and one of them starts dating someone, their brother or sister gets possessive and wants to ensure that their sibling does not end up getting hurt in any way.
The oldest sibling is generally quite dominant and over-protective over his/her younger siblings. They like to boss them around but at the same time, look after them when their parents leave the house.
Younger siblings often feel dominated by their older siblings even when they are just trying to protect them from. Their sibling’s bossy nature makes them feel irritated and frustrated which leads to frequent fights.
As discussed earlier, when there is a larger age difference between the older and younger sibling, the older sibling behaves like a parent to the younger sibling. They feel responsible for their younger siblings so it makes them overbearing.
When children grow up, their older sibling eventually has to move out of the house to go to college or maybe go to a boarding school. It is then that the younger sibling feels anxious as their friend or partner in crime has left them all alone.
When the older sibling returns, their bond is changed and has grown weaker as they now lead separate lives. This leads to many fights as they have to readjust to each other’s new habits and interests.
They are likely to treat each other like strangers and become detached with one another. They need time to catch up to the changes in their sibling’s lives.
How Parents Should Handle a Fight Between Siblings
When their children fight, parents should ideally try to stay out of it unless absolutely necessary. Letting children sort out their fights on their own improves their conflict resolution skills as they grow up. It also helps the children realise their own mistakes and apologize for it.
But, there are circumstances where the parents should step in to stop brothers and sisters from fighting like when they are about to physically assault one another, or when they are verbally abusing each other.
In such instances, parents should do the following to dissolve or resolve the situation:
- Give them a time-out so they have time to cool down. Once they are able to think rationally, the parents can try resolving the conflict by being the mediator.
- It is important for the parents to listen to both sides of the story, their individual perspectives matter to aid the conflict resolution.
- Encourage the children to open up and create a safe space for them to express their feelings one by one.
- Teach the children to make a compromise on their situation and negotiate terms which are acceptable to both.
- If the parents are unable to bargain terms acceptable to even one child, for instance, if one child refuses to share their belongings with the other, then the parents should remove that object for both until they decide to compromise.
- If the parents decide that there is a necessity to punish them for their actions, then they must be fair and punish both the children equally.
- It is important to provide a learning experience for the children during this intervention so they handle conflicts in a more positive way throughout their lives.
In this article, we explored 11 different reasons why brothers and sisters fight so much. We also talked about what parents should do if their children’s fights start going out of hand.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs): Why Do Brothers And Sisters Fight So Much?
How often do brothers and sisters fight?
Young children may fight multiple times every hour which may sum up to about 10-15 mins an hour. Older children may fight once or twice a day or perhaps once in two days, depending on the close bonding they share with one another.
What do you do when your brother and sister fight?
When brothers and sisters fight, the first thing to do is to separate them and allow them to calm down. Try to listen to both sides of the story and reason with them. Allow them to express their feelings in a more productive way without screaming, yelling or crying. Try to come up with a solution together and teach them about compromising.
Why do grown up siblings fight?
Many factors can hamper adult sibling relationships. One sibling may have a better relationship with their parents, one may live closer to the parents, one sibling may be doing much better in life than the other, things like this can cause resentments between siblings. These resentments cause fights.