Does sibling rivalry ever end?
Sibling rivalry is one of the toughest problems for parents to handle. It never truly ends, though many siblings will call a truce in late adolescence or early adulthood and go on to enjoy a pleasant and supportive relationship for life.
Most child development experts agree that the root of sibling rivalry is the child's deep-seated need for the exclusive love of his or her parent. We all want to be No. 1 and desire all the love, all the food, all the attention and all the protection. This striving for specialness is a basic survival mechanism and fosters a sense of security. Young children perceive sharing parental love as getting less and don't understand the advantages of cooperation versus competition. That's why it's important to start when the children are young and teach them cooperative problem solving.
Strategies to manage sibling rivalry rest upon providing each child with exclusive parental attention daily, looking for and rewarding cooperative play, allowing children to work out their differences and parents to abandon the role of judge and jury insightfully. It's how you respond that really matters. Once a child is chosen as right, he or she wins, and the other child automatically loses. This sets into motion a cycle of unpleasant conflict.