As the eldest child, I can tell you that being the firstborn in Yorubaland is a tough business. My childhood would have been said to have ended the moment my sister arrived. The moment my sister was born, everyone expected me to transform into adulthood automatically. I can say I was not prepared. Chai! Chai!! Chai!!! It was a rude shock. I became the object of scrutiny. While struggling with these sudden changes and much expectations from me, I had to deal with the following facets;

The chores: I had to learn how to do a task such that any form of imperfection created tongue lashing and slaps. Remembering the moments now is still painful. I guess there was a handbook handed down to parents to make first-borns their mini version. Most of the time when I got to be corrected, I felt lesser love. It was a situation that could have murdered my self-esteem, but it created something worse. It created bitterness towards my sister. This bitterness did not go away for another 18 years there about.

The comparison: Perfection was expected of me but I embraced imperfection. I just wanted to have a stress-free childhood. My sister, on the other hand, was cream and proper, so she became the perfect child. Perhaps I was trying to get them off my back. It was always ” Can’t you be like your sister? “, your sister is this and that, blablabla!!! So we got distanced.

The snitching: Both of us wanted to be in the right eye of our parent, so we often rat out each other. This made it difficult for us to confide in ourselves as sisters should. Well, I bore the brunt of it as I fall culprit more often than usual. So I always look forward to payback.

The unfair punishment: This was really why I stopped trying because the payback never favoured me. In fact, I might even get beaten for my sister’s crime. First of all, “ You are the elder, how did you allow that to happen? ” I would roll my eyeballs and automatically wish I was the last. You win a tussle, she reports and you automatically become a bully. Nothing just seemed fair. So the gap between us increased.

The repercussion: As I expected solidarity from my sister, she was also looking up to me. Most of the things she tried with me and got away with it, she dared not work it with my friends. So when they tongue lashed her or tried to bully her, I looked the other way. I felt it was justice but I was wrong…

Alhamdulillah, years later we poured out our heart to each other, and we found out we had wronged each other severely. I am using this medium to say “I am sorry for a sibling relationship gone wrong”.

Sibling Boxing!!!

What is sibling rivalry?

Sibling rivalry is the jealousy, antagonism, competition, and fighting between brothers and sisters mostly for the attention of the parents. It is a concern for most parents of two or more kids.

Reasons for Sibling rivalry

  • Childhood is a process in which every child is competing to discover themselves as an individual. As they define who they are, they try to find their own capacities, uniqueness, activities, and interests. They want to show that they are unique from their siblings.
  • Children feel they are getting unsatisfactory amounts of attention from their parents.
  • Children may feel threatened by the arrival of a new baby who they feel have taken their parent’s love away.
  • Your children’s developmental stages will affect how mature they are and how well they can share your attention and get along with one another.
  • Children who are deprived of basic needs, who gets hungry, bored or tired are more likely to become frustrated and start fights.
  • Children may not know positive ways to get attention for a sibling or how to start playful activities, so they pick fights instead.
  • Family culture plays a role. For example, one child may remind a parent of a relative who was predominantly tricky, and this may subconsciously influence the way parent treats that child.
  • Children often fight more in families where parents think aggression and fighting between siblings are healthy and an acceptable way to resolve quarrels.
  • Not having time to share regular, enjoyable family time together (like family meals) can increase the chances of children engaging in conflict.
  • Stress in the parents’ lives can decrease the amount of time, and attention parents can give the children and increase sibling rivalry.
  • Stress in your children’s lives can shorten their fuses, and decrease their ability to tolerate frustration, leading to more conflict.
  • How parents treat their kids and respond to the situations can make a big difference in how well siblings get along.

How to Manage Sibling Rivalries

  • Most importantly, don’t play favorites.
  • Try to avoid comparing your children to one another. For instance, don’t say things like, “Your sister gets good grades in school—why can’t you?”
  • Teach your kids positive ways to cohabit and play. Show them how to interact with other children and ask them to play, and to share their belongings and toys.
  • Set your kids up to cooperate rather than compete. For example, have them share the task and execute chores together instead of chasing each other.
  • Study the time of day or other patterns in when quarrels usually occur. Do we have more squabbles right before naps or bedtime or maybe when children are hungry before meals? Perhaps a change in the routine, an earlier meal or snack, or a well-planned quiet activity when the kids are at loose ends could help avert your kids’ conflicts.
  • Let each child be who they are. Don’t try to label them.
  • Enjoy each of your children’s individual talents and successes.
  • Being just is very important, but it is not the same as being equal. Older and younger children may have different privileges due to their age, but make your children understand that this inequality is due to the fact one child is older or has more responsibilities, they will see this as fairness. Even if you did try to treat your children fairly, there would still be times when they feel as if they’re not getting an equal share of attention and approachability from you. Be prepared to explain the decisions you have made, reassure your kids that you do your best to meet each of their unique needs.
  • Family activities should be fun for everyone. If your kids have good memories together, it acts to safeguard against squabbles. It’s easier to warm up with someone you share fond experiences with.
  • Ensure each child has enough time and independence of their own. Children need space to do their own thing, play with their personal friends without their sibling, and to have their area and property protected.
Girl sticking out her tongue to sister

Ways to Manage Sibling Rivalry

  • Create time “alone time” for each child, spend some one-on-one with each child on a regular basis. It’s astounding how much even 30 minutes of uninterrupted one-on-one time can mean to your child.
  • During your alone time with each child, you may inquire about the positive things their brother or sister does that they really appreciate or admire and what are some of the things they do that might make them furious? This will help you keep monitoring their relationships, and also remind you that they undoubtedly do have some positive feelings for one another.
  • Listen attentively to how your children feel about what’s going on in the family. They may not be so difficult if they know you care about how they think.
  • Celebrate your children’s uniqueness.
  • Let each child know they are unique in their own way.


“Truly, Yusuf and his brother [Ben Yamin] are dearer to our father than we, even though we are so many. Behold, our father is surely suffering from a clear misguidance!”[ Quran 12:8]

Sibling rivalry has been recorded in the holy book. It is well understood in the story of Prophet Yusuf. It is reported that Prophet Yusuf’s brother’s hatred towards him was fueled by their father’s show of favoritism.

Therefore, parents must be careful in dealings with their children. May Allah guide us right. Islam preaches against severing family ties. Parents should learn to celebrate the uniqueness of each child. A child is a child irrespective of his or her position on the family tree. Children have feelings too. ©muslimahsvoices

Sibling Rivalry | Cs Mott Children’s Hospital | Michigan .., (accessed January 10, 2019).


  1. Jazakhillah khairan sis for this lovely writeup.. Sibling rivalry is an unavoidable issue but it can be properly managed by the parents.. May Allah direct us in all our endeavors..


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