Sibling Rivalry: Healthy or Dangerous?

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Sibling rivalry is quite common in India as well as around the world. It is prevalent in both joint and nuclear families. Parents and family members unknowingly encourage sibling rivalry sometimes by favoring one sometimes. Sibling rivalry can have deep repercussions if it is not handled with care. It may also hurt the feelings and emotional well-being of the sibling who is at the receiving end of sibling rivalry. May be this is the time children develop their inferior/superior complex which causes issues in their adult life.

Siblings –

So, sibling rivalry should be avoided altogether? Is it unhealthy?

It’s not unhealthy if it is done in the right spirit. Some parents encourage sibling rivalry to breed healthy competitions among their wards. As long as the parents are not damaging the morale, self-worth of their wards, sibling rivalry can help in improving bond among the children.

For example, the younger sibling may get motivated to work harder after seeing his elder brother or sister doing well in school, studies or sports. His parents may encourage him to emulate his elder sibling to improve his performance. The younger child may take it positively if he is encouraged by all the family members with utmost care. It should be noted that the comparison should not demean any of the siblings.

But, sibling rivalry can damage a child’s self-worth?

Not all kids are the same as all fingers are not the same size. But a parent would struggle to understand that. They would just think that the younger child is lazy and shirking studies, while the elder kid is doing a great job despite being given the same level of parenting, schooling and treatment. They may keep comparing the younger child with the elder one, leading to constant nagging and humiliation. The younger child may develop inferiority complex, and his performance may go down further.


Parents need to understand that every child is unique and they must not unnecessary compare siblings. The child should be accepted the way he or she is. The child would have some talent and must be given the atmosphere to develop and grow rather than being pulled down by sibling rivalry.

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