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What do you and your sibling(s) fight about most? Do you solve the problem on your own or get an adult involved?

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Sibling Rivalry: Playing Favorites
Mother and daughter

Topics on
Sibling Rivalry:

You vs. Them
Attention and Approval
The Jealousy Monster
Playing Favorites
Comparison
Fair and Equal
Get Over It!
Good Rivalries
From the Mentors
Do you feel like the adults in your family treat everyone, including the pet fish, better than you? Maybe your little brother gets the PlayStation game that YOU asked for, or your Dad has a special nickname for your sister because she made the softball team.

Nothing makes kids develop rivalries and jealousies faster than when they feel that a parent is playing favorites. But the big question is: are they REALLY?

If our parents make it obvious that they really like something about our bro or sis, it can seem as if they like that child better...especially if you're feeling not-so-sure of their love for you. It's much easier to take out our anger on another kid than an adult, so although we may feel angry with our siblings for getting treated better, in reality, we're really just mad at our parents because we think they're playing favorites.

Sometimes, what seems like favoritism is really just loving recognition, such as: "Sam, good job cleaning up the kitchen," or "Brittany, that hairstyle looks great on you." When parents say these kinds of things, it doesn't mean that your sibling is smarter, prettier, more loved, or even that he or she comes first in your family. Think about it. Do you say to yourself, "Dad is better at making pancakes, so I love him more than Mom"? Hopefully not!

Are your folks truly playing favorites? Here are some questions to ask yourself:

  • What did a parent say or do to make you feel this way?
  • Is your parent just expressing admiration for a sib's quality or achievement? Have they never expressed this kind of admiration towards you?
  • If your bro or sis was rewarded or complimented, was it for doing something really special, like finally getting an A in their toughest class?

If these questions bring up some confusing feelings, talk to a parent about them. A great tool for expressing yourself is the "I-Message," which will help you communicate in a way that really gets results! Use this I-Message Worksheet to get the hang of it.

Okay, another thing about siblings that can really drive us crazy is Comparison.

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