Siblings: Friends or Rivals ?

As I entered my office that morning, the nursery teacher turned up with one of her students. Sulking on the fact that the class was fed up with her, the 4 year old followed her teacher into the office. Rakhi had always been a diligent and obedient student, as claimed by the teacher but had been behaving violently with her classmates for the last few days. On top of this she was caught several times taking away other children’s belongings.

As the teacher left my office, I could see that the child was nervous. In order to ease her, I said, “So Rakhi, I hear that you are a good student. So what is it that you like to study..A B C D or 1..2..3..4 ?”

The little face seemed to light up slightly, “A..B..C..D”.

“And what will Rakhi become when she grows up?”


“Policeman! Do you know what a policeman does?”

“Catches the bad guys”,¬†finally a smile appeared!

“That’s great Rakhi. But do you know that you have to be a very good girl in order to be a policeman. You cannot take other people’s things”.

She nodded yes. It was evident that she knew stealing was bad but the question was, then why did she do it? Is it kleptomania or some personal or financial reason?

“So who are there at you home?”

“Mommy, daddy and my small sister”, said Rakhi.

“Okay, how small is your sister?”

“She is a baby”.

“And who loves you the most, mommy or daddy ?”

There was silence. Rakhi looked down for a moment and said, “No one loves me. Everyone loves the baby”.

I understood. Later I spoke to the teacher and called Rakhi’s mother the next day. Both the parents were busy with the new member of the family and were spending less time with Rakhi. No more family visits to the park, no more sitting on mommy’s lap and all because of the new baby. This frustration was affecting her behaviour at school. She became stubborn and even violent to others. Her dear parents were not her anymore so whenever she liked something she took it without letting anyone know.

It’s not just Rakhi, this is something that occurs in most households. We as adults think the younger one is too small to do anything so we have to give them more attention. We need to remember that the elder one is also young enough. We need to attend to both of them. If the mother is spending time with the younger one, the father needs to spend time with the elder one. When the mother is feeding the younger and the elder one is told to eat by herself, it’s obvious she will feel jealous. So what to do? The best way to ensure that the elder one does not feel left out is to engage them in taking care of the baby. Tell them to read stories to the younger one or may be sing a song or even may be sit and study beside the younger brother or sister. Give them the responsibility to look after their sibling.

It is on to us as parents and caregivers to ensure that sibling rivalry doesn’t grow. Let us teach children to love each other and there will be no place for rivalry.


Rakhi is now doing well in school.Mommy and daddy spend more time with her. She sings to her little sister every evening after finishing studies. Her violent behavior and stealing behavior has also disappeared.

~ Inspired from a true incident



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