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Sibling Rivalry in Teens

by Shannon Philpott

The teenage years can be challenging, what with peer pressure, academic responsibilities and social issues, but add sibling rivalry to the mix and your family dynamic may be at risk. From squabbles about fairness of chores and competitive outdoor games one minute to bonding over a new hit song and complimenting wardrobes the next, the relationship your teen children have is never predictable. Understanding the factors that contribute to sibling rivalry in teens can help you navigate disagreements and foster a friendship that will last a lifetime.

Changing Needs

The needs of teenagers change rapidly, and anxieties associated with friends, teachers, schools and even neighbors can affect teen sibling relationships. Teenagers are developing a sense of independence, freedom and individuality, note the experts at KidsHealth. When two teenagers struggling for independence and dominance live in the same household, rivalry is likely to ensue. Treat each teen as an individual and recognize their differences to foster a sense of individuality in each of them.

Influence of Role Models

It’s natural for siblings to develop a sense of competition, but an aggressive approach to handling conflict can lead to unhealthy sibling rivalry. Teens learn aggressive conflict management from adult and teen role models. The experts at KidsHealth website emphasize that how parents resolve problems sets an example for kids of all ages. Encourage your teens to model the behavior of positive influences, such as coaches, parents and teachers, when competing and cooperating with a teen sibling.

Perception of Favoritism

It’s not just younger children who crave mom and dad’s attention. Teen sibling rivalry is often fueled by perceptions of favoritism by one or both parents. If a teen believes that his sibling is getting more attention or privileges, a sense of favoritism can spur disagreements or arguments between them. TeenHelp.com, a website developed for parents of teenagers, notes that siblings compete for negative or positive attention from their parents. Parents can minimize this rivalry by reassuring each teen that the parents love all their children equally. Outlining a goal or specific behaviors to achieve privileges may help decrease the perception of favoritism among teen siblings.

Jealousy

Jealousy rears its ugly head at school, in social situations and at home during the teen years. As teens try to fit in with their peers, they often compare their looks, skills and achievements with those of others. Teenage siblings will naturally feel jealous of each other at times. A daughter may be jealous of her sister’s talents, while a son may wish he could make friends as easily as his brother. In addition, teens are sometimes jealous of how much time one parent spends with a sibling, note the experts at TeenHelp.com. Reduce your teen’s jealous reactions by emphasizing her talents, skills and blessings so that she can see her value without comparing herself to her teen sibling.

About the Author

Shannon Philpott has been a writer since 1999. She has experience as a newspaper reporter, magazine writer and online copywriter. Philpott has published articles in St. Louis metro newspapers, "Woman's World" magazine, "CollegeBound Teen" magazine and on e-commerce websites, and also teaches college journalism and English. She holds a Master of Arts in English from Southern Illinois University.

Photo Credits

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