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Expert advice

16th Aug 2023

Parenting expert shares what causes sibling rivalry

Jody Coffey

This is a good rule of thumb.

Whether your kid has refused to eat their vegetables or is acting up in school, you’ll do just about anything to rectify their behaviour.

Meanwhile, their sibling has just aced their exams and tidied their room.

If using your well-behaved child as a shining example to correct your other child’s behaviour is your first port of call, you may want to reconsider this parenting technique – even if its coming from a place of compassion.

Of course, this is never done with malicious intent, but sometimes there are times when you’ll do just about anything to help steer your child onto the right path.

Perhaps it’s happening without even realising.

A parenting expert has taken to TikTok to share that comparing siblings can trigger rivalry between them.

Parenting coach, Lisa Bunnage, advises parents and guardians to avoid beginning sentences with examples such as: “Well, your sister can do that, your brother is better at that…”

“This is what builds it [rivalry] because they don’t even think that way necessarily, unless you start pointing it out, or other people do,” Lisa explains.

She recommends focusing on their own individual talents.

“Forget about the other one,” she urges, “because you’re always going to have kids that are better at some things and others that are going to be worse at things.

This can often happen when there’s a ‘star’ child or a child who ‘really struggles’ within the family, ¬†according to the parenting coach.

“Be really careful to find what is special in each child and focus on that and don’t compare the kids. I see this quite a bit,” Lisa stresses.

She adds that this is especially noticeable with identical twins, more often than not when it comes to their appearanced-based differences.

This, she says, should be avoided completely to prevent a life-long competitiveness between them.

Children all shine in different areas and it’s best to highlight and praise what they do well.