I'm always arguing or fighting with my brother or sister.
I’ve heard many stories of people fighting with their siblings in their younger days. I’ve even heard a few stories of them still fighting when they were grown-up! There are many reasons why it happens, ranging from wanting more attention from their parents, needing to feel powerful, relieving boredom by annoying the brother or sister, or simple jealousy. There are also reasons how it happens, like not sharing toys, not being courteous to each other over the most seemingly basic situation, invading each other’s private space, or competition due to certain age based privileges, like one child being able to stay up later because they’re older, or another child being allowed to have more computer time than their younger sibling. It may not take very much for problems to flare up. Built up resentment which leads to frustration and anger can easily spill over into a scuffle or an all-out brawl in extreme cases.
When researching this topic, I decided to look up videos of what set siblings off against each other and what happened as a result. One video depicted a younger sister taking to her eldest brother with a portable vacuum cleaner after the brother wouldn’t give her the family dog for a pat. Another video had two brothers sharing a room as the house was too small for them to have separate rooms. Another story had one elder brother staying up late to study. The other younger brother kept complaining that the light was keeping him awake and that he needed to be up before dawn. The brother who was studying ignored him, so the younger brother stormed out of his bed, took the light and smashed it on his desk. The result: big punch up!
The issue of brothers and sisters fighting is a common occurrence in almost every family, the only thing that differs is the duration and the severity. Although it may seem like a natural part of growing up, in extreme circumstances it can lead to long term problems, particularly if the results of many fights has a dominant brother or sister over the other.
What are the long term effects of sibling aggression? According to an article by PsychCentral, researchers found that physical and psychological aggression can traumatise children, leading to instances of depression, anxiety and anger later in life. The article suggests that sibling aggression can be more damaging than bullying, partly because it mainly occurs in the home where you’re supposed to feel safe, and partly because your siblings know you so well and they know exactly what buttons to push to hurt you the most.
Sibling violence is a more common form of family violence which occurs more frequently than parental or spousal abuse.
The effects of sibling violence can leave a child feeling powerless at home so they look to validate themselves in another environment, at school or on the sports field, for example. They often use bullying as a means to even up the score. Their sibling bullies them at home so they get even by bullying someone else at school. The shame experienced by a sibling who feels at the mercy of a dominant sibling may even cause narcissistic tendencies to form which can further complicate their social lives into their future.
Understand that when you have more than one child, sibling rivalry is usually inevitable.
There can be benefits to your children, such as the development of life skills, grit and determination. As a parent, using your knowledge of birth order can allow you to understand each of your children’s needs, wants, and feelings.
There are stages when you must intervene. If it’s normal bickering and minor name calling, stay out of it. If it’s turning into a yelling match, with nasty name calling with mild physical contact, the parent/s needs to acknowledge the anger from both siblings and intervene verbally, perhaps with a warning that there will be a physical intervention or punishment.
If the sibling arguing is turning into questionable play fighting, firmly stop the interaction and impose a cool off time.
If the parent senses that physical and emotional harm is imminent or has already occurred, firmly stop the children and separate them. If a child is hurt, attend to them first. Review your household rules and depending on the circumstances, impose a consequence (reasonable punishment) and a cool off time.
If you are a sibling reading this article, I would suggest reviewing the consistency of aggression with your brother or sister, or in other words, if you’re hitting your sister or brother, quit it. You have to live in the same house with each other. Don’t you think it would be a lot easier if you just got along with each other?
Do you know what is triggering you both to argue and fight? Can you find common ground on your own or find a time and space to talk to your brother or sister to clear the air and create some boundaries and common ground? In other words can you prevent this situation from happening in the future?
In many cases, it is possible to negotiate a long lasting peaceful settlement with your siblings if both of you can come to the table and are willing to negotiate a truce or an understanding. If not and it is causing you long term pent up frustration, I strongly suggest bringing in a third party to help sort out the toxic dynamic that is causing the problem. If you can talk to your parents or someone else you trust and ask them for help, you are likely to be heading in the right direction.
If problems seem insurmountable. I suggest contacting a life coach to help resolve the situation.
If you need help, reach out to me here...
Contact: David Gillman - The Mindset Mechanic