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Birth Order Sibling Rivalry

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a_sibling_rivalryUnderstanding Birth Order To Help Siblings Get Along

In any family with more than one child, sibling rivalry is bound to happen. However, the extent to which the phenomenon occurs is affected quite a bit by birth order. This term refers to the order in which children are born and also how far apart in years the children are spaced. Birth order sibling rivalry has been studied for quite some time now.

Parenting Siblings

The extent that birth order affects the relationship between siblings can be controlled to a degree by parents. According to studies in sibling psychology, parents can do their best to ensure that the introduction of a new sibling in the home goes as smoothly as possible by taking care to disrupt the life of the older sibling as little as possible. Ways to reduce the disturbance include ensuring that the older child is able to stay at home when baby is born, making sure she knows who will be caring for her when Mommy is recuperating and taking care of the new baby, and being able to meet her new sibling as soon as possible. By taking care to ensure the best possible initial experiences, the birth order relationship and effects on rivalry can be minimized.

The relationship between siblings aside, birth order also has an affect on personality. For example, the first-born of a family often scores well on intelligence tests. They also tend to be more independent. Younger siblings, however, often appear to be more socially well adjusted. They have spent their entire lives with other siblings and have been socialized with other children their entire lives. This birth order effect on personality has been studied for many years in sibling psychology, and the correlations that have been observed are quite consistent.

It is also important to note that birth order sibling rivalry tends to be more intense when the space between the ages is close together. In other words, the closer the children are in age, the more pronounced the sibling rivalry will be. The birth order relationship in this respect is affected most by how much the children each need the individual attention of the parents and what type of attention is needed. Children two years apart or less often require a high level of attention and nurturing from parents, so they quickly tend to become very jealous and can grow to resent each other on account of the spacing. On the other hand, an older child of say five or six, while still needing attention and nurturing, does not need as much as an infant. Therefore, the theory of those studying sibling psychology is that the rivalry between the siblings will not be as intense as that of children born closer together. Parents, however, play a much larger role in sibling relationship. Parents have the ability to parent each child accordingly and reduce the effects of birth order on children in the family.

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