Rivalry or Bullying?

Your first best friend is your brother or sister, but as you grow older, you can develop rivalry or competition. Whether it’s who gets better grades, who’s better looking, or who’s stronger. Unfortunately many young people confuse rivalry with bullying.


Often, child bullies are victims themselves. A bully is someone who uses their power to intimidate others, typically to get what they want from that person. Sibling rivalry is very common, especially when parents put their children in situations where they have to compete. For example, parents might think that by comparing their children’s strengths, that’s going to motivate them to do better. Instead it creates fear, intimidation, and unnecessary rivalry.

Sibling rivalry can come in various forms:

Insults: giving siblings demeaning nicknames

Physical aggression: hitting each other or fighting to get what they want

Destroying: Breaking their sibling’s belongings to make them upset

Tag teaming: When multiple siblings pick on one sibling


Bullying Starts at Home and Needs to Stop at Home

Correct aggressive behavior: Don’t let siblings fight over small things.
Teach and learn: As a parent, set the example and be a role model. Respect your children and they will learn to respect each other.
Problem solve: Teach children that there are better ways to resolve problems than by intimidating.
Communication: Encourage good communication and ask your children about their day.

Many times sibling bullying comes from feeling unwanted or not fitting it. They are frustrated that they can’t achieve the same things their sibling can. Communication is key and it starts at home. As a parent, make sure you enforce good communication as a family and be an involved parent. Take interest in what they enjoy doing and set an example by not using intimidating tactics to get your children to do what you want them to do.

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