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When you’re growing up with siblings, you are bound to have duels with them. Whether it is about fighting over the shiniest new toy, quarreling over remote controls of a game, disagreeing on a certain topic, or arguing to prove yourself better than the other – such rivalries take place between siblings and honestly, this is quite common. However, when sibling rivalry becomes intense it leads to sibling bullying.
Sibling bullying may appear in many forms, but a sibling always does with the intention of belittling, shaming or excluding the other sibling. It may even include constant teasing, calling with different names, giving threats and making other siblings take part in the bullying.
Sibling bullying is not a novel concept. It has been going around in houses for over so many years. The sad part is, it still remains a problem in every house. People, especially parents, have not been able to find a permanent fix for it. They do try and their attempts may also curtail the sibling rivalry to some extent but after a period of time, it may start happening again.
The problem is, most of the parents fail to identify what sibling bullying is and how harmful its long-term effects can be. They don’t take it seriously. They assume it is only a phase and will finish soon. For them, it is natural for siblings to quarrel among themselves. More often than not, they think sibling rivalry is common among their children and should be ignored. As a result, bullying between siblings increases and leads to difficult consequences.
Bullying begins within families where abuse – be it mental or physical – is commonly practiced by the parents. That’s where children pick the bullying tactics from. Children are wired to copy the behaviors of those around them, so it should not come as a wonder when a child who is being bullied by an abusive parent at home goes on to bully others around him. The child will target the other children such as his siblings or even classmates, who are comparatively weaker than him. To vent the frustration, the child may even resort to other forms of bullying – he can physically abuse another sibling and hurt them.
It is often noticed that the relationship dynamic between the bully and the victim or the siblings for that matter do not change even if they step into adulthood. In fact, sibling bullying continues in adulthood if not stopped on time. The bully continues to threaten or victimize their sibling because by doing so they boost their own fragile sense of self-worth. They like to believe that they are more powerful than the victim. On the other hand, the victim feels resentful and weak, allowing the bully to continue abusing them. Even after being worn down for years at the hands of their bully sibling, the victim remains tight-lipped and lets the abuse to continue.
The victim may make attempts to form a healthy relationship with their bully sibling but he may eventually give up and accept the situation, no matter how miserable they may feel. However, those who are fed up with the sibling bullying, they take a drastic measure – they begin avoiding their sibling altogether, maintaining no contact with them at home. This creates a distance between two siblings. They might not come close to one other again if they’ve gone through such a situation. The victim becomes estranged with the bully sibling, not wanting to keep any relation with them. It gives them a sense of relief for not being around someone who keeps bullying them time and again.