"Adolescents will be
head-on at each other occasionally no matter what you do. It's worse if you have two
boys or two girls. A boy and a girl generally get along better together."
--Family expert Gladys
25, 2001 (Lexington, Ky.) Theyre
at it again. This time the argument is over a toy, a shirt, a funny look. No matter how
close they seem, it appears your children are always fighting. Have you done something
said family expert Gladys Hildreth. Youre just experiencing the all-natural and
unavoidable sibling rivalry.
will be head-on at each other occasionally no matter what you do, said Hildreth,
professor of family studies and chairperson of the family studies department at the
University of Kentucky. Its worse if you have two boys or two girls. A boy and
a girl generally get along better together.
said personalities and developing egos play a big part in sibling rivalry, as does the
need for attention from parents.
need to sit down with each child and discuss their roles in the family, she said.
That discussion is very important to help children to understand their role in the
family and to let them feel more secure and loved and part of the family.
said even rivalries that have progressed beyond the occasional fight to constant battle
and snide remarks can be turned around. Underneath everything, the children are still
siblings, and that is an indelible bond.
can be a huge task that requires help from the whole family, she said. But if
it means something to you, you can do it.
the cause of the rivalry may not be within the children, but within their aunts and
uncles, Hildreth said. Children, especially teens, model their relationships after those
they see most often those within their families. If the familys adults
cant get along, often the children will be unable to get along also. To fix the
childrens problem, parents may have to face their own.
times we are reluctant to think we may be the problem, Hildreth said. But
usually we are too close to the situation to really see what is going on.
such situations, Hildreth suggested bringing in a third party to help everyone wade out of
trouble. While it can be hard sometimes to share troubles with someone else, the outside
person will have a more objective and clear approach to the problem and some solutions,
she said. A respected therapist, a family minister or even a trusted friend can serve as
that third party.
choose help that has been proven to other people, and let it work, she said.
the rival requires a simple family discussion or meetings with a therapist, Hildreth noted
that the key to improving the situation is communication.
of the situation or the type of parenting used, good communication is healthy for