Sibling rivalries can be harsh, even into adulthood. It's a conflict as old as humankind-one of the best-known examples being the epic tale of Cain and Abel. So if you're having a tough time with your sister or brother, you're not alone. To best cope, it's helpful to understand more about this type of conflict.
Hating Your Sister Is An Awful Feeling - Learn What You Can Do About It
Sibling rivalry disorder (SRD) might be diagnosed where there is a conflict between siblings so severe that it:
Leads to marital problems between parents
Poses a real danger of physical harm to one or more family members
Is damaging to the self-esteem or psychological wellbeing of one or more family members
Needs the intervention of a mental health professional
Sometimes siblings never outgrow this rivalry, and the conflict perpetuates into adulthood. Here we'll discuss what causes sibling rivalries, and how to either overcome or accept them.
How Does Sibling Rivalry Manifest?
According to child specialists Alexander K. D. Leung and Lane M. Robson, rivalry occurs between most, if not all siblings to varying degrees. This often manifests as early as the age of two to three years. Leung and Robson say, "Rivalry may be manifested as a verbal or physical attack, frustration, persistent demands for attention, or as regressive phenomena."
Regressive phenomena include thumb-sucking, bed wetting, temper tantrums, baby talk, etc. Another symptom may be tattling or lying to the parents about a sibling's transgressions.
Rivalry between adult siblings may include behavior like stonewalling, open aggression, fights, cruelly manipulative behavior, as well as avoiding each other or unpleasant exchanges.
What Causes Sibling Rivalry?
Simply put, sibling rivalry is caused by the sense that children are competing for their parents' love and attention. This perception of parental favoritism can manifest very early in a child's life, with dire effects if severe and left unaddressed. It can cause mental health and behavioral issues in children and teens, but also continue to have negative effects into adulthood. It doesn't have to be this way. There are steps you can take, like talking to someone who can help you identify and work through your emotions in an effort to resolve the conflict with your brother or sister.
Researchers at Cornell University conducted multiple interviews with mothers and their adult children, who were asked about:
Their emotional closeness
Excessive conflict with a specific child
The mother's expectations regarding which child will care for her if she becomes disabled or ill
Results demonstrated that only 15 percent of children felt they were treated equally by their parents. Also, where the mother assigned a specific child the task of taking care of her (possibly demonstrating favoritism), all the children in the family showed greater symptoms of depression. However, the children didn't link their mental health directly to the perceived unequal treatment.
"It doesn't matter whether you are the chosen child or not, the perception of unequal treatment has damaging effects for all siblings," said Dr. Karl Pillemer, a Hazel E. Reed professor in the Department of Human Development at Cornell's College of Human Ecology. "The less favored kids may have ill will toward their mother or preferred sibling, and being the favored child brings resentment from one's siblings, as well as the added weight of greater parental expectations." Parental favoritism, therefore, doesn't only burden the 'black sheep,' but also the favored child.
But What If I'm an Adult and I Still Hate My Siblings or Sister/Brother?
Your hatred can stem from rivalry when you were children, and fight for your parents' favor, but what if the hatred towards one or more of your siblings is overwhelming, and continuing even in adulthood?
Consider Your Relationship Realistically
If you're an adult and feel resentment towards your sister or brother because he or she still seems favored by one or both of your parents, it could be wise to contemplate the source of your ill feelings. Perhaps start by considering all factors of this favoritism realistically.
Maybe your parents and siblings are drawn to each other for geographical reasons and therefore get to see each other more often out of convenience. Or perhaps they share personality features that make it easier for them to relate. Since they probably think alike, they are more likely to share opinions, views, etc. It's a natural tendency in relationships to gravitate towards those we agree with.
Also, your view of the world or your beliefs may differ from your family's. Research has shown that parents feel more ambivalence towards a child who doesn't share their values. It's a shame, but not an error on your part. Just because you were raised together doesn't mean you'll automatically get along with your siblings as adults. This is true also for your parents. Life shapes all people differently, and often we change drastically over time. It's a painful truth that the people we were close to as children sometimes grow up to be adults very different from us.
Your parents and siblings are human and fallible. Also, as children, we tend to unconsciously put our parents on pedestals. This is another natural tendency, but one that could hamper your emotional growth and development in adulthood.
Sometimes the divide can hurt. The longing to be unconditionally accepted and loved by our parents and siblings is primal, natural, and strong. Feeling like the black sheep of the family could be debilitating and isolating for an adult. Also, relationship conflict can cause a lot of stress. For this reason, it could be beneficial to make an effort to work through your difficult emotions.
Six Steps to Deal With Difficult Emotions on Your Own
According to relationship specialists Drs. John and Julie Gottman, the key to overcoming the difficult emotions in relationships is mindfulness. Practicing mindfulness enables you to calm and soothe yourself, and in this state, you will have space to reflect and thoughtfully respond, rather than reacting. They offer six steps to remain mindful while dealing with difficult emotions about almost any relationship:
Become aware of your emotions and identify where in your body you feel them. This could manifest as a pounding heart, clenched jaws, or a sick feeling in the stomach. If this step is difficult, stop and take a break. 'Listening' this way to difficult emotions gives them the gentle space they need-these emotions just want to be felt, nothing more. Bottling up will only result in them popping up elsewhere. According to the Gottmans, these emotions are trying to help you wake up to what is going on before a major crisis occurs.
Mentally identify the emotion, and give it a label or name, i.e., say out loud to yourself: "This is hatred," or "This is sadness." Don't say, "I am hateful," or even "I feel hate towards my sister." This way, you distance yourself from the emotion. You should then feel better able to deal with it. This can be empowering and take some of the pain out of difficult feelings.
Accept your emotions. Don't resist, deny, or try to change them. It may even be helpful to say this out loud to yourself: "I accept this feeling of hatred." The Gottmans suggest that you call to mind a best friend going through a difficult time, and imagine what you would say to him/her, such as: "You're okay. You're not to blame. You did the best you could." Then, also say the same to yourself. This way, you treat yourself the way you would a best friend-with compassion, understanding, and gentleness. Taking this step will soothe you greatly. It may even open you to viewing your sister or brother differently. Eventually, you will find the difficult emotions more fleeting.
Hating Your Sister Is An Awful Feeling - Learn What You Can Do About It
Realize the emotion will pass, i.e., that it is impermanent. This is an important step even when the emotion feels overwhelming. Nothing in life is permanent, and this includes the most powerful, gripping emotion or circumstance. You will gain an important skill of mindfulness if you can internalize this truth. Eventually, emotions will evaporate by themselves.
Inquire and investigate the trigger for the emotion. Ask yourself: "What triggered this feeling of hatred? What set me off and why do I feel this way? Was it a result of my critical mind or because of the way my sister acted?" Another good question to ask would be: "What is happening here?" This step is important once you have calmed down. It introduces realism and objectivity to the situation if you're able to be honest with yourself and let your deep, authentic self answer. It will create a space for you to see things differently.
Let go of the need to control this emotion. The Gottmans recommend you simply remain open to the outcome of your emotions and what unfolds. If you can, step out of yourself for a moment, and listen to what your sister or brother is trying to communicate to you. This is the first step to more compassionate, balanced, and kind relationships.
BetterHelp Can Help
If you feel your family relationships are affecting your peace of mind or ability to function, it might be time to consider therapy or counseling. You don't have to do this alone. BetterHelp can be the perfect online platform to find psychological assistance. You can connect discreetly with therapists trained to deal specifically with family issues and sibling rivalry, and all other types of relationship conflict.
Below are some reviews of BetterHelp counselors, from people experiencing similar issues.
"Alisha has let me view situations in another perspective. Like the stressful times I've gone (still going) through with my family and my work. I'm really grateful for her time to listen to what's on my mind and really making me comfortable to share so much with her. Thank you, Alisha!"
"I started working with Jeana a few weeks ago mainly because I am trying to really step out and learn who I am without the influence of my family and others. She has been so very helpful in guiding me through this process and helping me manage those emotions that will pop up while trying to dig through life."
Your relationship with your siblings doesn't have to be painful. They're the friends you're born with. Of course, like any relationship, the ones with your brothers and sisters are a two-way street and you alone may not instantly fix everything. But by taking the initiative and the first steps, you will show your siblings you are willing to put in the effort, and hopefully they will follow suit. Take the first step today.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
Why are sisters mean?
While there are many sisters who are nice, there are many who seem mean. You may even say, "I hate my sister," whenever she annoys you.
It's important to find the underlying reason why your sister is mean. Sometimes, it's because they are simply young, and plenty of sisters who grew bigger grow out of it. Another reason why your sister can be mean or it seems like your sister hates you is because she feels jealous.
Sisters can also be mean due to rivalry that goes a little too far. We all get competitive, and it's quite easy for that competition to be a little much at times.
It's important to find the reason why it seems like your sister hates you. Have a conversation over some food, drink, or something else that makes you feel comfortable. Don't do it when the two of you feel heated. If you must, seek help from a therapist.
Why do sisters fight so much?
All siblings of all genders fight a lot. It's a natural part of sibling rivalry. Sometimes, it's to compete for the most attention. Other times, siblings fight because of poor communication.
While the occasional fight or argument isn't going to be that bad, and can even be good for both parties, if you and your sibling are constantly getting into fights, it's time to speak to a therapist or learn to avoid the triggers that could create fights.
Can sisters feel each other's pain?
Some sisters, or siblings in general, can swear by the idea that they can feel each other's pain in an almost telepathic kind of way. There does not appear to be any scientific evidence to support this, but there may be some more natural explanations.
For example, if you are always near your sibling, you may pick up on their emotions much easier through facial expressions and other body language. If they feel sad, you may start to feel sad as well.
What is the full meaning of sister?
A sister is a sibling who is female, but the term can have a deeper meaning. For example, you may call a woman your sister if you feel like you have a connection to her that is like a deep sibling bond. You may even call someone you dislike your sister due to how much you bicker. A bond that feels sisterly is usually deeper than your average friendship bond. A good friend does indeed feel like extended family to you, and you may share your health, fitness activities, account details, and other unique secrets with her.
How do you deal with a mean little sister?
If your little sister hates you, then what should you do? A younger sister, especially one who is a young child, can be cruel. First, you should not yell or express anger, as this can fuel your sister's meanness. Ignoring them can sometimes make her knock it off, but there are also times when it will just make the sister escalate things.
One thing you should do if you have a mean little sister is to talk to her about it calmly when she's in a good mood. Tell how you feel, and explain it. If the both of you are older, do it over food, drink, or someplace where both of you are relaxed.
Finally, you could always seek help from a therapist or counselor. A family therapist can help both of you reach a compromise.
What age does sibling rivalry start?
It usually begins past the toddler years. Once a child starts learning the relations they have, knows how to share their own experiences, and can compete with their other siblings, that's when the sibling rivalry can begin. It can begin quite early, so be on the lookout for it.
How do you discipline siblings that fight?
When you have two siblings screaming phrases like "I hate my sister!" after a fight, you may wonder what you can do about it. While you should discipline, there is a right way and a wrong way of going about it. An example of a wrong way is to try to find which sibling to blame. A right way would be to ignore the idea of blame (unless one is clearly at fault,) and figure out ways for both siblings to work together.
During a fight, you should also separate the siblings, give them some time to cool down, then discuss what happened afterward.
Finally, one thing to do is to set rules that the siblings can agree on, along with proper discipline. Enforce it equally.
I hate my siblings! Is sibling rivalry common?
Of course sibling rivalry is common. When two people are raised under the same house, they may compete for the parents' attention, or compete in sports. They may learn skills and see who is the best. There are many reasons why rivalries can develop, and if these are done in a healthy manner, then it can be good for both siblings. However, it's always possible for sibling rivalry to become toxic to the point where they'll say "I hate my siblings", and in this case, you may need to seek help.
What does SIS mean sexually?
SIS stands for "Sexual incompatible syndrome." This is not an actual diagnosis, and is instead found in Urban Dictionary. The idea of SIS is that there are two people who should be sexually compatible, but end up not having any sexual chemistry despite the fact that they seem to work well together.
Is the word sister an adjective?
The main definition, which is any family members who are female siblings, is a noun. However, the word "sister" can be an adjective as well. In its adjective form, it describes someone who is like a sister to you. For example, you may say you have a sister friendship with someone. It can also describe two things that share similar interests or are related. For example, two channels owned by the same company may call themselves sister networks.
What is a sister religious?
This is better known as a religious sister, and it involves Catholicism. This is a woman who has dedicated her life to apostolic works.
What is Brothers and Sisters Day?
Brothers and Sisters Day, which is on May 31st, is the European version of Siblings Day. These days celebrate siblings and the relationships they have. It's a day to think about your sibling love, relationships you have with them, and perhaps it's a day you can plan something or talk to your sibling if you have fallen out of touch.
How do you get rid of an annoying brother?
When you have a younger brother, or even an older one, who likes to annoy you, it can be frustrating. First, do not go off on him, as this is what he wants. Instead, try finding something to distract yourself with. For instance, you may listen to music, get lost in a hobby, eat some food, drink some soda, the list goes on.
If you do want to express your feelings, do it when you have a calm head. Talk about how you feel and how you wish he could change his behavior.
In some cases, you may need to get your family members on it. Alternatively, you can also go to family counseling. Sometimes, the annoyance can be caused by a much bigger problem, and a counselor can help resolve that.
Which sibling relationships are the closest?
Siblings who grew up together and can communicate with each other well tend to be the closest. These types of siblings may have some kind of rivalry, but this rivalry is not toxic and encourages healthy competition. Sibling relationships that are close tend to also be the ones where both parties give effort.
How do I get my sibling to stop being jealous?
Sibling jealousy happens sometimes. Sometimes, one sibling feels they aren't being treated fairly when compared to another sibling. Or, one sibling is luckier than the other. If your sibling is jealous of you, here are some ways you can handle that.
First, hear out the other sibling. It's important to listen to how the other sibling feels, and see if there's anything you can do. Discuss it when both you and your sibling are calm, as you don't want to have any fights.
Do not try to make the sibling's jealousy worse. Even if you think they are being silly, you shouldn't say or do things to intentionally enable it.
Tell your sibling about their strengths, accomplishments, and why they're great. Also, discourage your sibling from comparing themselves to you. When people compare each other, it often causes fights. You don't want this to happen, do you?
Finally, seek help from a family counselor if you are still unable to convince your sibling that they are great. Sometimes, you may need help from a professional in order to reach your sibling.
How does sibling rivalry affect child development?
Sibling rivalry can teach a child patience and learning to manage their emotions, but it can have the opposite effect as well, with some children not knowing how to control their temper.
Sibling rivalry can also affect childhood development by giving the child a more competitive nature. In moderation, it can be good for the child.
How do I stop my daughters from fighting?
If you've heard "I hate my sister!" more times than you can count, you may wonder what you can do about it. Sibling rivalry is normal and not something you should prevent, but when the fights get explosive, what can you do about it?
Here are some tips.
Don't yell or scream at them. This is just enabling how they solve problems in a toxic way. Try to remain as calm as possible when handling the problem.
Have some boundaries. The siblings can play a part in making the boundaries. Do not bend to them, either. Have an appropriate punishment ready, but also positively reinforce when both are doing well.
Give them problems they can solve together. Encouraging teamwork can be one way for the siblings to get along.
Sometimes, you should let them talk it out. If they are screaming "I hate my sister!" at each other, separate them and give them some time to cool down. Afterward, allow them some time to talk it out when heads are cool.
Finally, go to counseling if the fights continue. There may be an underlying issue a counselor can help you resolve.
How often do siblings argue?
This will obviously depend on the relationship, but for most siblings, they are going to have an argument a couple of times every hour. These fights don't have to be anything major, but instead mild disagreements. A little bit of arguing here and there doesn't have to be a bad thing, but if they are always fighting and are never sharing anything positive, then perhaps it's time to seek help from a professional.
Is sibling competition healthy?
A little bit of competition can be a good thing for siblings. It allows both siblings to try their best and gives them incentive to learn new skills and interests. When the competitiveness gets violent or is mentally damaging, such as one feeling insecure all the time, then it's a sign that you need to discourage the competition a little bit.
What is inevitable rivalry?
This is when a rivalry was bound to happen. For example, an older sister and a younger sister having a rivalry. It's commonly associated with siblings, but many people, be it at work or at school, can have rivalries. This can be a good thing if the competition is healthy and the two have a close relationship, but toxic rivalries should not be encouraged.
Is it normal for brothers to hit each other?
Siblings are going to have an intense rivalry, but violence is something that should be discouraged. Toddlers play fighting is one thing, but if the siblings are older and fighting, this should not be encouraged, especially if one is always on the receiving end. Seek help from a counselor.
What does it mean to discipline a child?
"Discipline" is the Greek word for "to teach," and it describes this concept well. Discipline is when you teach a child right from wrong and attempt to prevent bad behavior in the future. When one thinks of discipline, they may imagine punishments such as grounding. However, rewards can be discipline as well.
What do you do when you and your sister hate each other?
The first thing you need to do is deal with your own thoughts, feelings, and behaviors. Understanding your own reactions helps you recognize when you are being unreasonable and when you are doing the best thing for your mental health.
The next step is talking with your sister. Express your feelings and encourage her to express hers. Talk about the interests you have in common, the memories you share, and the goals you share. Find the good things between you. But also talk about the problems you have getting along with each other. Remember that you are responsible for your own words and behaviors, but you are not responsible for hers.
If you and your sister still feel you hate each other, you may need to maintain some emotional distance between you, at least for a while. Set clear boundaries and be assertive to ensure your sister honors them. Also, be open to the idea that these negative feelings may change as you get older. You mighthave the best of luck in resolving issues with your sister if you can both go to family therapy together. The therapist might even ask your parents to join the conversation part time during your sessions.
How do you deal with annoying older sisters?
Older sisters or brothers can make your life a living hell if you don't know how to manage your feelings about the relationship. Parents often place a lot of faith in their oldest children. This can make you feel like your parents don't trust you. Also, when you're a child, your older sister or older brother might have privileges that you are not old enough to have.
The best option if you are still living with your parents and siblings is to start by examining your thoughts about your older brother or sister. Try to see their behavior from your parents'perspectives. Take your sisters'viewpoint to be more empathetic to them. At the same time, recognize and accept your own feelings. Then, consider adjusting your thoughts so that they are more rational and helpful. A therapist can help you do this.
How can adults overcome sibling rivalry?
Why do sisters fight so much?
The idea that sisters would fight sounds awful and unreasonable until you realize that there are several reasons why it happens. Jealousy can cause disputes. Add to this the fact that they are both the same gender, which can make them feel even more competitive for their parents' love and attention.
What are the main causes of sibling rivalry?
Siblings are vying for their parents' attention. A sick or disabled child or a child that a parent favors may get special attention that the other siblings resent. If a parent turns a blind eye to their children's fights and arguments, the children may feel the stress of unmet emotional needs for safety and security. Siblings who are at different developmental stages have different needs, and they don't always understand the level their sister is on. Also, the siblings' personalities may clash, making them naturally irritating to each other. Finally, the way the parents behave provides a model for the children. So, if the parents feel free to be envious of others, argumentative, or hateful to others close to them, their children will, too.
Is sibling fighting normal?
Mild sibling fighting is natural. However, it's important to distinguish between mild sibling fighting and sibling violence. If your brother or sister has hurt you, or if you are a parent of children who fight, ask yourself the following questions to determine if the sibling fight could be considered sibling abuse:
Is there a pattern of physical aggression?
Is the fighting meant to inflict harm?
Are aggressive acts motivated by a need for power and control?
Is one child always the victim?
How often does the sibling fighting occur?
How long do sibling fights last?
Is the fighting related to their age?
If your children are engaging in sibling violence, you may need to check for community guidelineinformation and quick links to find out if there is free help available to you. Or you can go for family therapy in your local area or online. Getting the abuse under control is essential if you do not want to see your family life a living hell.
How often do siblings fight?
Siblings may seem to fight constantly, but chances are, they only fight part time. It sounds awful to say that children fight often, but some certainly do. Other children rarely fight with their siblings, either because they get along well or because one feels so fearful that they don't fight back.
Why do younger siblings look up to older siblings?
For many reasons. The main two are responsibilities and development. The older has more responsibilities, so their younger siblings may see them as more important and competent. Because their development is more advanced, they can accomplish things that younger siblings cannot do yet. They do things first, so older children have a chance to set the bar for achievement. As children get older, they have more opportunities for learning social skills, and if they do, they may have many friends and boyfriends or girlfriends that their younger siblings do not have yet.
The best option for younger siblings is to stop comparing themselves to their older siblings. When you can feel pride, accomplishment, and satisfaction with the things you've done, you can set your own course to personal happiness.
Therapy Is Personal
Therapy is a personal experience, and not everyone will go into it seeking the same things. But, keeping these nine things in mind can ensure that you will get the most out of online therapy, regardless of what your specific goals are.
If you’re still wondering if therapy is right for you, and how much therapy costs, please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org. BetterHelp specializes in online therapy to help address all types of mental health concerns. If you’re interested in individual therapy, please reach out to email@example.com. For more information about BetterHelp as a company, please find us on
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