There are various factors that cause siblings to fight, including competition among them, the nature of parental guidance and support, and unmet needs, according to clinical psychologist Karolyn Pillay-Moodley. She adds that conflict among siblings can become an issue at any age, occurring after the birth of the second child or even in adulthood.

Children’s health and parenting site says there’s often a degree of jealousy or competition among siblings that can result in bickering.

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There are, however, several factors that influence the frequency and severity of these fights.

According to KidsHealth, children’s needs, fears and identities tend to change and develop over time, and ultimately affect how they relate to one another as siblings. For example, toddlers are naturally territorial when it comes to their belongings, such as toys, and are learning to assert themselves. This is why an older child may react aggressively when his/her younger sibling wants to play with or touch the toy.

Schoolgoing children know about fairness and equality, but won’t necessarily understand why their older or younger siblings are treated differently. Then there are teenagers who have found their identity and individuality, and could resent household responsibilities that include taking care of their younger brothers or sisters.

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Children’s temperaments differ according to their personalities, and this affects how well they get along with one another, according to KidsHealth. An introverted child, for example, could butt heads with a child who is easily angered.

Parents must be cognisant of their children’s personalities as different temperaments require different approaches. The way in which parents deal with conflict resolution sets the precedent for how children relate to one another. Parents should therefore work through conflict respectfully, because it’s likely their children will be significantly influenced by what they see.

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“Parents should be role models that promote healthy communication and conflict resolution,” Pillay-Moodley says. “They should understand the temperament of each child and treat each child as an individual, and should not compare siblings with one another.”

She suggests parents seek professional help if sibling rivalry spirals out of control.

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