What to Expect
All parents dream of a wonderful relationship between their children, but disagreements are unavoidable between siblings. Children are likely to fight over toys and tease one another. Despite a parent's best efforts, sibling rivalry is a natural part of growing up. Here's a guide of what to expect and when:
Under Age 4
Sibling rivalry can be at its worst when both children are under 4 years of age -- especially when they are less than three years apart. Children under the age of 4 depend on their parents a great deal and have a very hard time sharing them with siblings.
Age 4 and Up
Competition between brothers and sisters can heat up as they grow older -- usually at its worst between ages 8 and 12. Siblings who are close in age or who have many of the same interests tend to compete more.
The Older Child vs. The Younger Child
As the younger child grows older and develops more skills and talents, the older child may feel threatened, embarrassed, or "shown up" by the younger one. This can lead to unnecessary competition or aggression from the older child.
Meanwhile, the younger child tends to become jealous about the privileges his big brother or sister gets as he or she gets older. An older sibling's competitiveness and aggression that arises as the younger one grows and develops can come as a surprise to the younger child and lead to returned hostility.
It's important not to get too upset when your children are jealous of each other, especially if the older child is a preschooler. It takes time for a youngster to learn that his parents do not love him any less because they have another child to love.