Sibling rivalry or rivalry between brothers and sisters is a common phenomenon in most families. To some extent it is natural and acceptable, but it becomes a cause for concern when it induces untoward changes in the siblings relationship with each other.
An over-protective attitude towards one sibling, a gender bias or more importance being given to one child because he or she is a better performer, may create unfavourable undercurrents amongst siblings and lead to an unhealthy competition.
The arrival of a second child in the family may also herald the onset of rivalry. The first-born finds it difficult to accept that there is another with whom he has to share the affection of his/her parents. There is a sense of loss and alienation. This frustration and loss may culminate into the desire to cause harm to the new entrant.
Perhaps, only parents can help children overcome hostility towards the new entrant. They can do so by preparing the older child for the arrival of a new member. The father may spend more time with the older child to make up for the inability of the mother to do so. If both siblings get enough attention, there would be lesser scope for rivalry.
Parents must, at any cost, avoid comparisons between their children, for each one is unique, with special qualities and aptitude. Petty problems between children should be left to them to be sorted out among themselves. Parents should interfere only when things get out of hand. Moreover, the best way to overcome sibling rivalry is by fostering family bonds, by involving the children in family activities and outings. However, whenever the rivalry assumes a threatening proportion, professional help must be sought.