Does sibling rivalry exist in Seychelles?


18-February-2012

As a parent you would naturally want your children to be the best of friends. It is believed that whether siblings become best friends or rivals it depends on the socialisation by parents and how the child measures the amount of attention being given.

Seychelles is no exception to the sibling rivalry which exists worldwide. Seychellois parents have to face as many challenges to prevent the childhood sibling rivalry from growing into adulthood sibling rivalry.

An assistant psychologist from National Council for children (NCC) Doughlas Pierre says the name speaks for itself. Sibling rivalry involves competition, disaccords and conflicts between siblings. “Some family can deal with it whilst some cannot.” He said. 

Explanation of sibling rivalry.

Favouritism is the main explanation to the conflicts leading to sibling rivalry. Mr Pierre explains this in terms of the birth order theory; First time parents tend to give great amount of attention to their first child. In the case that a second child joins the family competition occurs. “Love has to be divided” he said. This leads the first child who is used to having all the parents’ love and attention to rebel.

Favouritism though may be a one sided view. Parents may not see themselves as favouring any one sibling. The child however may perceive that there is favouritism within the family. For example parents with two children where one is disabled may find themselves giving more attention to the disabled one, but may not see it as favouritism. The non-disabled child however may see that he or she is receiving less attention. The child may attempt to gain attention through either verbally or physically abusing his sibling. In such cases that a child tries to gain the parents attention in a bad manner, the parents may not understand the child’s behaviour and label them as ‘naughty’. Parents are therefore blind to the possibility of being catalyst to sibling rivalry.

Mr Pierre said that sibling rivalry may carry over into adulthood. “Even in adulthood jealousy and rivalry is noticeable.” He said. “Cousins who live under the same roof may also experience rivalry.”

In the case that the siblings are of different sexes some believe there is less chance of rivalry existing as the siblings are treated differently according to their gender; a process called gender socialisation. This prevents any need for competition, so they are less likely to end up as rivals.

On the other hand siblings of the same sex are thought to be more likely to develop enmity. This is because as brothers or sisters, preferential treatment of parents by either one can lead to fights among each other; boys usually fight physically so the rivalry between them is more obvious unlike. Girls on the other hand tend to exhibit more verbal cues which is often less obvious. Still it cannot be assumed that this is the case as different families have various experiences.

Views of some parents on sibling rivalry.

A Seychellois mother of sixteen year old twin girls and a twenty-one year old daughter shares her experience showing how beliefs can be misleading.

She said her daughters tend to depend on each other. “There is no rivalry between them. One of the twins usually takes the lead. Usually they would all consult each other.” She said.” There is no rivalry but rather encouragement between them.” she added. She believes the environment children are brought up in may cause such rivalry between children and that it is a problem if children have not learnt to share things.” If brought up with a selfish attitude then problems may occur.” She said.

A mother with a son and daughter claims that there is sibling rivalry in her home. “I never interfere however because I know they’ll be just fine. If the fight is further than a simple argument then I will intervene.” She said “when there are two children in the home arguments are inevitable. It’s normal because they are different and have different characters and ideas especially during teenage hood.” she added “in the end they wrap up.”

Preventing sibling rivalry.
As parents, ensuring that your children do not become rivals and maintain a good relationship would naturally be a great challenge as children are individuals with their own personal thoughts and personalities. Thus it may be practically difficult to prevent sibling rivalry if not dealt with as soon as it is noticed. Mr Pierre said parents role in preventing sibling rivalry is important .These are certain suggestion he advises parents: 

• Parents should be able ensure that they treat their children alike. Favouring one child over the other is not appropriate.

• Give them the same amount of attention. The first child has a tendency to compare the amount of attention their parents gives to the youngest. They may distinguish that the youngest is being pampered more than they did when they were the only child.

• Don’t favour one over the other. This will only lead to competition.

• Giving them the same opportunity to develop may help in preventing competition between siblings. 

Hannah toussaint

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