When Sibling Rivalry Becomes Sibling Bullying

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Parenting Tips for Sibling Rivalry
Brothers and sisters will always fight, but when does it become dangerous?

It's natural for siblings to argue, and most of us with brothers or sisters have experienced that phenomenon while growing up. This is not only considered normal, but is a rite of passage in our childhood memories; who doesn't remember arguing over the remote, the best seat in the car or a variety of other trivial matters?

The problem begins when sibling rivalry takes on a tone of bullying. A tell-tale sign of bullying is that one child is always the victim, and the other child actively plots how they can taunt or terrorize his or her sibling. This sort of bullying is not healthy, and good parenting advice is to intervene in order to minimize anxiety, depression in the child being victimized. The problem should also be addressed to stop aggression in their child bully. Both kids will suffer the loss of good mental and emotional health if bullying behavior is allowed to continue, according to a new study in the July issue of Journal of Pediatrics.

Researchers in this study did not include adult relationships, but many adult counselors focus on sibling rivalry and bullying behavior. Sometimes siblings form alliances against one of the other siblings and ostracize them entirely; this behavior can extend well beyond adolsecent years.

A child who grew up as a victim of bullying may continually be picked on well into adulthood. It is not uncommon for a parent to begin overprotecting said child, and this dynamic can continue into adulthood. This can lead to a sense of favoritism among family members, as the weaker child often receives extra attention from the parents. These patterns, unless intervened with in childhood, can forever change family dynamics, making them toxic and uncomfortable for everyone involved. Keep reading...

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Article contributed by

Mary Jo Rapini

Counselor/Therapist

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