Top dog – under dog

Imagine being in utero and all your needs are met. It’s all YOURS - undivided attention and an online food supply. Nobody to compete with. Nothing to share. How glorious the feeling that it is mine, all MINE. The next moment you are born, and you have to share attention, space, time, food, toys and everything else that was yours and yours alone. It would be very, very difficult for you to share, and it would unthinkable why mom and dad would want another baby, which spontaneously give rise to the question: “Am I not good enough? Is that why they had another one?�?

When a second baby is born, sibling rivalry is BORN its twin.
Sibling rivalry is the competition between two or more children when one feels his or her needs are not being met, or even worse, that mom and dad favour the other child. The downside of this ongoing competition is the constant bickering and name calling that wears a parent out especially when the ‘under dog’ calls on you as reinforcement to strengthen his position, or to act as referee.

Sibling rivalry is not all bad, it also offers each child a wonderful opportunity to develop leadership skills, negotiation skills and team building skills, but the ages and level of maturity of the children will determine if siblings are seen as gifts or hazards. The younger the child, the more difficult it is for them to share, because their rational, thinking part of the brain is not developed enough yet. The more emotionally immature a child is, the more difficult it is to share, because the emotional part of the brain tends to be selfish.

What fuels sibling rivalry?

  • The arrival of a new baby.
  • A lack of one-on-one attention. Every child thrives on undivided attention even just a few minutes each day being close enough for long enough that a child feels special. You might want to read about how you can actively listen to your child.
  • Comparing children for example, saying, "Your sister is so good — why can't you be good too?". 
  • Favouring one child to always sit in the prime spot, or get the prized cup. Sharing is caring.
  • Role models who are constantly arguing or in conflict with each other. Children do what children see.
  • Parents who think fighting between siblings is normal and an acceptable way to solve conflict.
  • The absence of regular, enjoyable family time together.
  • The absence of a safe place to get their emotions out so that their brains can go into thinking mode.

The lack of time to STOP the busyness, lower yourself so you look each other in the eye and ask, “I can see you have something important to tell me, what is it that you need?�?
It is easier to work things out between siblings when there is space and time, and the family often shares fun projects or outings together. It doesn’t have to be expensive or a huge production to be meaningful family time. Simple things like working together to pitch a tent, or build a fire; or walk the dog or rake up the leaves create the space for children to be together without competing to be the best, the first or the winner. Research has found that when people move together, the stay together.

Set your kids up to cooperate rather than compete. -Anon

Read more on how important dad's role is in the healthy development of a child.