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Sibling Favoritism Facts

There would hardly be a parent who would agree to one of the least acknowledged sibling facts- sibling favoritism. It does remain a reality, even if it happens unwittingly. Some of the most common reasons that sibling favoritism comes into play include:

  • Learned behaviour from one’s parents- Ever so often if someone was treated less as a child, they unwittingly seem to repeat the patterns with their own children
  • When one child needs more attention- Sometimes circumstantially one child needs higher attention than the other . This may be on account of the fact that the child is differently abled, unwell or immature. In this case, unwittingly the child commands all the attention and time of parents
  • If one child excels at studies- Sometimes by virtue of the fact that one child gets all the medals be it in studies or extra curricular activities, all conversation tends to revolve around that child.
  • Order of birth- Sometimes first and last born are given more attention than the middle child.
  • Child’s personality and behaviour- Parent reaction is also determined by the child’s behaviour, so a child with pleasant behaviour may get better treatment from the parent than one who isn’t so well behaved
  • Stress- Favoritism often also manifests when the parent is under some kind of stress and worry- be it marital issues or financial worries. In such cases, parents unwittingly tend to favor the child who has greater potential.

Favoritism can go on to manifest itself in either of the following ways:

  • Greater affection and attention
  • More privileges
  • Less rules
  • Or even less abuse.

It is important to realize that the sense of self worth the child develops goes a long way in shaping the adult he or she will grow into. The fact about siblings is also that if one of them is not appreciated as a child and if their self-worth is impacted it is a possibility that they may go on not to acquire good social skills as they grow up. In personal relationships they are often seen as being “needy” which in turn affects the relationship, often leading to a string of break ups. Also the child may not develop a good bonding with the “ favored sibling” thus impacting their overall support mechanism. The pattern continues well into their choosing a career and other aspects as all their decisions are taken from the vantage point of low self-esteem.

This is not to say that the “favored” child has it easy. Being used to praise they find it difficult to accept disappointments in later life. They may even develop an inflated sense of self that makes them feel they deserve nothing but the best. In turn this may go on to harm their personal lives as well.

Sibling favoritism besides impacting the family dynamics can also have other serious consequences such as anxiety and depression that may need sustained counseling.

It is better for parents to reflect and admit to a possibility like this instead of denying it in the first place. In fact if a child expresses concern about another child being favored, the instant reaction should not be anger but the fact that the child has been open enough to share his or her feelings instead of keeping them bottled up.

Having heard the child, the parent can then work at the relationship. This may mean setting aside extra time for the child or doing different things or the same things differently.

All of this is not to spark undue worry in parents about whether they are playing favorites and to beat themselves up unnecessarily. The idea is only to be aware of its possibility. Needless to mention that parents need to react to different needs of children differently. So a 4 year old child cannot be treated in the same manner as a 14 year old. As long as parents are being true to individual needs of children there is no reason to worry unduly. Simply being mindful of these facts about siblings will ensure that no child grows up with a skewed sense of self worth that has a life long impact.

Post Author: Purvesh Sharma

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