Sibling rivalry has existed as long as families have. Think back to biblical times and Joseph`s problems with his brothers or of the dreadful time Cinderella had with her stepsisters! But what causes sibling rivalry? Siblings don`t choose the family they are born into, nor do they choose each other. Besides their gender differences and age gaps, siblings often are of different temperaments. Added to this, they also have to share the one or the two people they most want for themselves; their parents.

Other factors include:

Position in the family. For example, the oldest child may be burdened with responsibilities for the younger children. Sometimes, the younger child has to spend his life trying to catch up with an older sibling.

Gender to plays a part. For instance, a son may hate his sister because his father seems gentler with her. On the other hand, a daughter may wish she could go on a hunting trip with her father and brother.

Age is also an important factor. A five and an eight year old can play some games together, but when they become 10 and 13 year olds, they probably will be poles apart.

The most important factor however is parental attitude. Parents have been taught that they must be impartial but this can be extremely difficult. It`s inevitable that parents will feel differently about children who have different personalities with differing needs, dispositions, and positions within the family.

Here are some Do`s and Don`ts that may be helpful in reducing sibling rivalry within a family:

Never make comparisons. Each child feels he is unique, and rightly so. Most children resent being evaluated only in relation to someone else. Each child in the family should be given his own goals and levels of expectation that relate only to him.

Don`t dismiss or suppress your children`s resentment or feelings of anger. Anger is not an emotion to be blindly dismissed. It`s an entirely normal part of being human, and it`s certainly okay for siblings to get furious with one another. When a fight erupts, sit down with them, acknowledge the anger and talk it through with both parties concerned.

Try not to avoid situations that promote guilt in siblings. We must teach children that feelings and actions are synonymous. The guilt that follows doing something mean is a lot worse that the guilt of merely feeling mean.

Whenever possible, let brothers and sisters settle their own differences. Parents should only judge when things go out of control and they need to step in and mediate. This could happen, especially in a contest of unequals in terms of strength and eloquence. Some long-lasting grudges among grown siblings have resulted when their minority rights were not protected.