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Social and Emotional Skills

Sibling rivalry

Sharing attention between different children in a family can be difficult. Who is getting the most or least attention at any one time may be a bone of contention. From the moment a baby comes, the behaviour of the older siblings often changes – not always for the best. In families where there is an individual who requires more attention for any reason and where more attention may be essential, other siblings may have mixed feelings. They may have been told why their brother or sister requires the attention, and they can understand the reasons for it, but it still doesn’t give them the time with their parents that they really require. ‘Understanding versus feelings’ is always difficult to balance. They can cope with it some of the time, but the fight for attention for themselves is sometimes just too great.

Many siblings feel protective of their brother or sister who has difficulties but can still want to have personal time with their parents. They may sometimes even wish they were the ones with the problem to gain the attention. From the parents’ perspective, they are trying to balance love and attention for one sibling with love and attention for another. The difficulty comes when one sibling requires, out of necessity, more attention. How can you ensure fairness to all?