How many times have you heard people saying that they were annoyed by their brother or sister? Probably many. The most usual situation however is that siblings have trouble sharing parent’s love, attention, common belongings, friends and responsibilities. If you do have siblings then you probably wished at least ones in your life that you were the only child in the family. All those factors leads to so called Sibling rivalry founded by (David Levy 1941) claiming that for an older sibling aggressive reaction to the new baby is so typical that it is safe to say it is a common aspect of family life.
Sibling rivalry is defined as competition between siblings for the love, affection and attention of one or both parents or for other recognition or gain. Jealousy is a normal reaction that al children experience. A child who feels threatened of losing parental affection and love may react with rejection or hate towards a new sibling who is often perceived as an’ intruder’ ( Leung 1991) Legg et al interviewed the parents of 21 children over the period when a second child was born and found that sibling rivalry in the form of regressive behavior was present in most of the first born children.
Trause et. al reported that with the birth of a second child there was an increase in behavioural problems in 92% of 31 first born children. Although siblings rivalry exists in large families, it is less intense than in smaller ones.
As a family grows, the intensity of the rivalry tends to decrease. Levy found out the closer the relationship between existing child and the parent, the greater was the disturbance and the demonstration of hostility towards the intruder.
Darwins theory of natural selection explain this part of the story which focuses on the biological dispositions that most offspring’s have to compete for parental favour. Siblings compete to optimize parental investment and hence get out of childhood alive. Which is the main reason for siblings rivalry . Whereas, parents are equally related to all of their offspring and generally favour equal sharing among them. Freud 1921 sees competition among siblings as inherent to human life and explains it as resulting from parental dynamics.
Siblings have been seen as hated competitors for mother breast, as replacement for absent or not-good enough parents or as identification figure. Alfred W. Adler (1927) He argued that birth order can leave an unforgettable impression on an individual’s style of life, which is one’s usual way of dealing with the tasks of friendship, love, and work. According to Adler, firstborns are “dethroned” when a second child comes along, and this may have a lasting influence on them.
Sulloway (1997) points out that birth order is one of the elements that most contributes to differences between siblings and competition among them. He sees order of birth as a main explanation for development of personality and connects this to the Darwinian theory of natural selection, which focuses on the basic biological characteristics necessary in order to achieve parental preference. Consequences of siblings rivalry Anna Freud 1930 se
es that unfriendly death wishes towards a sibling creates conflict only when the child perceives that the mother incomprehensibly loves those obstructive beings, and insists that she/he direct part of his libido toward them. This dilemma can hasten Oedipal conflict. Winnicot 1956) relates to various disturbances connected to the birth of siblings, e. g eating disorder, phobias, bed wetting, demanding to be fed, talking baby talk, negativism, lying evasion , or aggressive or destructive behaviour may occur in some children, although rare has been reported.