Skip to content


February 4, 2013

Sibling rivalry and resolution of jealousy


If this is a familiar song to your ears, it is probably because you have more than one child.

CHILDREN (a noun). A set of individuals who, when apart—act wonderfully but when combined, make Mommy want to pull out all of her hair!

This is most commonly called, “Sibling Rivalry”. The terms that are commonly heard during this phase/stage are as follows:



HE TOOK MY __________  (toy car, toy wagon, toy boat, toy sewing machine, etc.)


Why do they do it? Are parents that obvious about loving one child more-better-faster, over the other?

Do we really have our FAVORITES? I doubt it, unless by favorites we all agree it is the quiet one! Kids are by nature the type of people that Look Out for Number One. It is in the DNA.

One of the first words that a kid learns is “MINE”. In fact, they learn “MINE” before the word “NO”. You KNOW how many times you say “NO” so that may be a bit hard to understand.

Let’s analyze the problem.

First, you have a baby! A lovely child, smells like heaven, coos and gurgles as if speaking with the Angels. Right!?

They come home from the hospital…their POOP doesn’t even smell bad! Maybe it does after the first week, but by then, it is TOO LATE to return them for your deposit.

OK well, no biggie and you bought all of those dipie-wipies just for this reason. You start going about the business of raising up a little human.

Everything is fine for a little while. Maybe a year goes by and you are sailing the smooth waters of Parenthood.


It happens AGAIN! You have another child.

UH…..OHHH…..  (suspenseful music)

Now you will have trouble on your hands. If only ONE of these Children can talk, then you are only in hot water up to your knees. ONE kid that talks can tell you everything. It is only a problem when that SECOND child starts up with the talking, that you begin to hear disagreements. And the word “MINE”.

Most parents would skip this stage if they could. No one, and I mean NO ONE—would choose to lead the kids into this sort of battle of words (word. Mine!)

I have heard tales of parents (most likely isolated incidents or people who have no sense) that will foster the growth of hostility between their children, in the name of Healthy Competition. Some people think that competition breeds stamina. No! It breeds HEADACHES! Especially for the parent who must sit on the sidelines and witness the spectacle of sibling squabbles.

I have even heard of one family (they are gone now. All of them went insane) that would try to create dissension (competition) between their two boys by buying only ONE toy at a time. They would have the two kids JUMP for it in a toss-up. The winner was usually the biggest boy. That is, until the younger boy learned to use a weapon.

Kids will fight over the dumbest things.

I recall an incident at my school, on the playground. It was one of those years where the caterpillars had completely covered the play yard and the walls of the building. A mass infestation of caterpillars! The kids were amazed. The Teachers were creeped out. Many new challenges arose around the subject of caterpillars. Two kids were arguing over their caterpillars. Yes! As a matter of fact they WERE related to one another. No, NOT the caterpillars… (oh I don’t know that. Maybe the caterpillars). The kids were a little brother and a big sister.

“HEY! Those are mine”, screamed the Big sis. The brother did not say a word, as he was mainly concentrating all of his effort and strength on hanging on to the caterpillar in question. I decided to step in and see if I could help.

“You two are both making a claim to this caterpillar, correct?” (They both nodded.) I continued. “No other Caterpillar will satisfy either of you, even though they are everywhere…?” (One nods yes, one shakes his head no, clearly not following the line of questioning). I tried a different method. The King Solomon Method!

I said to the big sis, “Run and get me the scissors.” She looked up at me with a questioning expression. “What I mean to say is go GET the scissors. Bring them to me, but DON’T run.”

She asks me why.

“Well, you two cannot decide on who gets the caterpillar, right?” (They both nod with some uncertainty).

“You both want me to be fair, right?” (Again, heads nod).

“What I propose is to take the scissors and CUT the caterpillar in HALF. Each of you can pick your favorite half.”

They were horrified! Disgusted! They were interested….but then GROSSED OUT.

I thought it was the perfect solution! I had the ball, so I ran with it. I described to them all of the different ways that a caterpillar could conceivably be divided.

I told them I could:

1. Cut it in half across the middle.

2. Cut it in half long ways.

3. Cut it diagonally

4. Chop it into ten equal pieces and each of them could pick five cata-pieces.

5. I could mash it up into a goo and they could each divide the goo.

I could see by their faces that this was not going to be that easy. Curiously, they both seemed to lose interest in the caterpillar, altogether. How strange!

The main point of note here is that they stopped arguing! Sibling rivalry can be handled in this way at times. Get them working together! Get them on the same side. THEM against YOU! This will serve to bring them together into a cohesive pair, with YOU as their despised mutual enemy! How great! No more arguing. Can you live with that?

Now you may say, “Ok, Deb. That may work at certain times and in certain situations. But—what about the griping and rivalry that goes on every day?”

Well, that is a real problem, isn’t it?

The real problem though, is TATTLING. Kids use the Tattle as a very powerful weapon against sibs. “Do what I say, or I’M TELLING”, is what they say. The other kids will do the bidding of the one who wields the Tattle-Tale!

Parents and other adults at times will get sucked in and ‘played’, and it is not immediately apparent when it is happening. It usually takes three Tattles before it dawns on the adult that they are a mere pawn in a vicious childhood passage.

Typically, the first and second tattling will have gone past, and it is the THIRD occasion (from the same child) that alerts the adult that they might be playing into a manipulation.

At this point the adult, feeling a little bit indignant, will LASH OUT at the ‘Tattler’. The two prior occasions saw the ‘Tattlee’ being the one to suffer but usually this action does not extend to the third occasion as—by then, the adult is figuring stuff out.

The lesson here (for the children) is that you can only tattle twice and be guaranteed great results. The third time is rather ‘iffy’. Possibly even risky.

I will tell you how I have seen this situation handled, so as to create a slightly different and more positive conclusion.

Let’s look at the typical situation of Tattling:

Kid#1 says: “I’M TELLING”

Kid#2 says, GO AHEAD AND TELL!”

Kid#1 says, “MOM!! (Or other supervisory adult)”

Parent/Adult just wants the yelling and unpleasantness to STOP! They say, “QUIET!!!!!”

Kid #1 wins, and then repeats the process.

Third time:

Adult (supposedly smarter) is now wise to it. They attack the bringer of the Tattle. This will usually put a stop to the Tattle action (temporarily).

The non-tattler (Tattlee) finds that it is only ok to Tattle TWO times. After that, it doesn’t work.

My point is that—Kids just cannot learn to get along. Oh well, most of the time, they’ll grow out of it.

2 Comments leave one →
  1. Pat Hudson-Sommers permalink
    February 4, 2013 11:24 pm

    As usual, you hit the nail on the head! No wonder you are such a great teacher! Love YOU, Girl!

  2. Kelly permalink
    February 4, 2013 11:52 pm

    I have two words for you….You Rock!!!!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: