6 Steps for Dealing With Adult Sibling Rivalry

Posted on June 23, 2017

Family roles and dynamics are the product of years of interactions. Habits build up and mindsets get formed, the entire family system goes through changing dynamics over time. Each child is different, and therefore will have different relationships with the parents. With the differences between siblings, sibling rivalry can be said to be inevitable. However, when sibling rivalry gets too intense, aggression and tension can cause stress to the family system. Here are six suggestions that might help you reset your family system:

1. Coming to terms with the inherent differences between you and your siblings
Remember that you and your siblings are not the same; and that your parents were different people when each of you entered the family constellation. As such, it is only natural that you and your siblings each had different relationships with your parents.

2. Be a role model to your siblings
Recognize that a bit of modeling in your own interactions may be effective to move your siblings out of the competitive rut they are stuck in.

3. Have a proper conversation to address the tension
It is important to acknowledge that competition may be driven by childhood feelings of insecurity and a reaction to perceived scarcity. Have a talk with your siblings about it, offer assurance and challenge their assumptions to bring back the reality into perspectives.

4. Have a face-to-face, heart-to-heart discussion
If a sibling simply cannot move past the past, perhaps you should have a face-to-face, heart-to-heart discussion with him or her. Perhaps you might want to share your perspective on how you felt inferior to the sibling growing up, which can allow the other party to understand what you are going through better.

5. Admit that you are not that great
It is said that adulthood turns rivalry into envy: If someone is envious of what you have accomplished, that says a lot about their own self-esteem and sense of accomplishment. If a sibling tries to denigrate your accomplishments, perhaps you can defuse the building tension by admitting that you haven’t accomplished all that your sibling has.

6. Back off
If all else fails, limit time with a rivalrous sibling and simply let their comments float by if you must be in his or her company. The best way to end a fight is often to refuse to engage in the first place.

Remember, it can takes just one person to change the functioning of an entire family system—and when you shift your behavior, your siblings have no choice but to shift in response. It may take a while to reach the optimal level of interaction, but knowing that you are making optimal choices provides momentum to keep doing that new thing you’re doing.

Category(s):Aggression & Violence, Blended Family Issues, Family Problems

Source material from Psychology Today

Mental Health News