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CHAPTER I: Introduction

Background of the Study

Beginning in the primeval days of childhood, even before language develops, the

ties between brothers and sisters often stretch far into old age, enduring longer than any

other attachment we have. Parents die, friends drift away, and marriages dissolve. But

brothers and sisters cannot be divorced; even if they do not speak to each other for twenty

years, they remain forever connected by blood and history.

In our culture, the rituals of infant baptism, circumcision, confirmation, even

graduation marked important changes between parents and children. The bonds

between husband and wife are celebrated by engagements and weddings, legalized by

marriage and annulment. But there are no rituals of church or synagogue that celebrate

sibling bonds. It is a kind of a law which is unspoken, but which is taken into the heart

by all individuals.

Despite the fact that brothers and sisters have strong ties, however, there remained

the reality that siblings often have differences of opinion. Most of the time, they argue

over issues ranging from trivial and insignificant, to major and serious. Drastic

consequences, such as physical harm to any family member, marital problems and

damages to the psychological well-being of an individual, may occur if these conflicts are

left unresolved.

Parents want their children to enter adulthood with good sibling relationships.

After all, in most cases sibling relationships are the longest relationships that any of us

will have in life. As siblings grow up together they develop a long history of shared

experiences. But it's mostly the experiences not shared that can cause differences leading

to conflict (Cicirelli, 1995, p. 2).

The primary aim of this research study is to identify the factors which trigger

sibling rivalry. By recognizing and understanding these issues, the research team would

be able to come up with solutions which will be vital in avoiding the possible

consequences of sibling rivalry.

Statement of the Problem:

This research study is conducted to provide realistic and practical solutions to

Filipino families who are being subjected to sibling rivalry, and it also aims to present

preventive measures for parents who plan to have more than one offspring, so as to avoid

this kind of incident.

Specifically, this study intends to answer the following questions:

1. What are the factors that cause sibling rivalry?

2. How do these factors affect the siblings’ relationship with each other?

3. What are the usual steps that parents take to solve sibling rivalry?

4. Do these steps work? If yes, why? If no, why not?

5. What are the most effective measures that should be taken to stop siblings form

squabbling with each other?

6. What advice should be given to parents who desire to have a big family?

Significance of the Study

This research study is essential to the following people:

Parents. With the help of this research study, parents would be able to solve their

siblings’ conflict with each other. Through the realistic and practical solutions that the

research provided, parents may help promote harmonious relationships within the


Siblings. Through this research, brothers and sisters may discover the true cause

of their conflicts and misunderstandings, and may be able to strengthen their relationship

with each other. The solutions provided will be beneficial for them, so that they would

have ideas on how to resolve their arguments

First-time parents. For the couple who wishes to have a big family, or even just

another child or two, this research study would endow them with advice to on how to

prepare their child for the possibility of a sibling. This will help them ensure that there

will be no instances of resentment and jealousy between the child and the new baby.

Other researchers. For other researchers who aim to study family dynamics

and relationships, this research study may be a significant tool for their endeavor. It will

help them to identify sibling’s relationships with each other, conflicts and

misunderstanding between them and solutions for these problems.

Definition of Terms:

Sibling rivalry. It is a term used to describe the conflicts or arguments that occur when

brothers and sisters have differences in opinion.

CHAPTER II: Related Literature and studies

Sibling Relationship

Sibling relationship is distinguished because it is a relationship between two

individuals who share common biologic origins from both parents. Because the

relationship is ascribed rather than voluntary, most siblings have a commitment to

maintain it. Sibling relationship lasts longer than most others with siblings typically

sharing a long history of intimate family experiences. Moreover, the sibling relationship

is more egalitarian than other relationships. (Half-siblings share biological origins from

only one parent, whereas stepsiblings and adoptive siblings have no common biological

origins. Depending upon family circumstances, they may or not may share other

characteristics of sibling rivalry.

The stability of sibling relationships is like an hourglass – wherein sibling

closeness gradually decrease in early adulthood, are low in the middle adult years, and

rise again in late adulthood and old age-is well supported by research findings

(Bedford,1993). Apart from such a general trend, individual sibling relationship seem to

wax and wane life circumstances. In a 4-year longitudinal study (Bedford, in press) about

two thirds of the respondents reported a change in feelings toward sibling over time,

related to life events. The direction of the change depended upon the interactions and

interpretations of the siblings in reaction to the events, and it was likely to be positive

rather than to be negative.

Sibling differences

The nature-nurture is one that is relevant to the study of sibling differences.

Applying the methods of behavioral genetics (twin studies, adoption studies) to sibling

differences (Scarr & Gracek,1982), has helped to make it clear that not only does genetic

similarity fail to explain sibling differences in personality, psychopathology, and

cognition, but that the environment shared by siblings also provides little explanation for

such phenomena. Authors of two excellent reviews of this literature (Dunn & Stocker,

1989; Hoffman, 1991) conclude that environmental influences not shared by siblings

must, therefore, account for the differences. Siblings may not only experience different

environments outside the home (different playmates, different teachers, etc.), but

environments experienced by different siblings within the home may also differ as a

result of differential parental treatment, sibling interactions themselves (including the

children’s perceptions and interpretations of each other’s behaviors), and events

experienced by one sibling but not the other (Dunn & Stocker, 1989).

Differences in mother’s behavior toward young siblings have been observed

(Brody, Stoneman, & Burke, 1987; Bryant & Crockenberg, 1980; Dunn & Munn, 1986;

Plomin & Daniels, 1986; Stocker, Dunn & Plomin, 1989). Older children (Furman &

Buhrmaster, 1985) and adolescents (Daniels, Dunn, Furstenberg & Plomin, 1985) have

reported differential parental treatment. Such differences were associated with sibling

adjustment and relationship to each other, when one sibling perceived him- or herself as

the deprived or unfavored child. In interactions with one another, older siblings tend to be

initiators of behavior; the younger siblings were followers (Abramovich, Corter, Pepler,

& Stanhope, 1986; Brody et al., 1987; Dunn & Munn, 1986; Rodgers & Rowe, 1988).

However, the situation may be somewhat more complex than presented above.

Hoffman (1991) points out that the child is an active interpreter of his or her environment

as well as an elicitor of parent and sibling behaviors. As a result, the child’s interpretation

of parents and siblings influences determines whether the characteristics of the sibling or

their opposite will appear in the child. Furthermore, the child’s age, gender, and physical

appearance (attractiveness, resemblance to the parents, and so on) at the time of a given

event, also influence personality development. Finally, sibling similarity is greater in

such things as attitudes and values than in personality traits.

Dimensions and types of relationships with siblings

In Ciricelli (1985b), such basic dimensions of the sibling relationship as feelings

of closeness, rivalry, and involvement were discussed. Findings of increase closeness

between elderly sisters were reported in Bayen, Gruber-Baldini and Schaie (1991).

Sibling rivalry may be considerably greater in adulthood than what was previously

thought, decreasing little with advancing age, based on the use of projective techniques

(Bedford,1989) and extended interviews (Gold,1989). Rather than just using single

dimensions or a profile of dimensions, Bank and Kahn (1982) identified several types or

patterns of sibling relationships – fused, blurred, hero-worship (idealization), mutual

dependence (loyalty), dynamic independence, hostile dependence, rigid differentiation,

and disownment. Gold (1989b) identified five types of sibling relationships- intimate,

congenial, loyal, apathetic, and hostile. These typologies were upheld by data reanalysis

using a “fuzzy set” clustering methodology (Gold, Woodberry, & George, 1990) , in a

study of African Americans (Gold, 1990), and in an independent replication (Scott,1990).

To the extent that the existence of such types can be generalized, they may prove useful

for describing sibling relationship.

Parent’s relationship with siblings

As a parent you want your children to enter adulthood with good sibling

relationships. After all, in most cases our sibling relationships are the longest

relationships that any of us will have in life. As siblings grow up together they develop a

long history of shared experiences. But it's mostly the experiences not shared that can

cause differences leading to conflict (Ciricelli, 1995, p. 2).

Depending on your family structure, your children might experience several types

of sibling relationships. Full siblings have the same biological parents. Half siblings share

only one biological parent. Step siblings are gained because of divorce and remarriage.

Adoptive siblings enter a family through adoption (Ciricelli, 1995).


Jealousy refers to the thoughts, feelings, and behaviors that occur when a person

believes a valued relationship is threatened by a rival. A jealous person experiences

anxiety about maintaining support, intimacy, and other valued qualities of her or his

relationship. Given that attachment relates to anxiety regulation, support, and intimacy, as

discussed above, it is not surprising that attachment also relates to jealousy.

Bowlby observed that attachment behaviors in children can be triggered by the

presence of a rival:

"In most young children the mere sight of mother holding another baby in her

arms is enough to elicit strong attachment behavior. The older child insists on remaining

close to his mother, or on climbing on to her lap. Often he behaves as though he were a

baby. It is possible that this well-known behavior is only a special case of a child reacting

to mother's lack of attention and lack of responsiveness to him. The fact, however, that an

older child often reacts in this way even when his mother makes a point of being attentive

and responsive suggests that more is involved; and the pioneer experiments of Levy

(1937) also indicate that the mere presence of a baby on mother's lap is sufficient to make

an older child much more clinging." (Bowlby, 1969/1982, page 260)

When children see a rival contending for a caregiver's attention, the children try to

get close to the caregiver and capture the caregiver's attention. Attempts to get close to

the caregiver and capture the caregiver's attention indicate the attachment system has

been activated. But the presence of a rival also provokes jealousy in children. The

jealousy provoked by a sibling rival has been described in detail. Recent studies have

shown that a rival can provoke jealousy at very young ages. The presence of a rival can

provoke jealousy in infants as young as six months old. Attachment and jealousy can

both be triggered in children by the presence of a rival.

Some degree of fighting is perfectly normal. It exists in every family that has two

or more children, so take comfort in knowing you are not alone. Some siblings get along

fairly well, while others fight constantly.

Having awareness about what causes sibling rivalry can help you begin to

understand this dynamic. When you can get to the root of an issue, it is easier to

brainstorm solutions. Just like adults, children have their own personalities and

temperaments and sometimes their differences clash. Age is another factor involved in

sibling rivalry. An older child may feel burdened by more responsibility or a younger

child may be caught up in trying to compete with his older sibling. In addition,

differences in interests change as a child ages. What is fun for a 5 and 7 year old may be

considered immature for a 10 year old. A child's sex can cause resentment as well. Let's

face it. Boys and girls are treated differently. A boy could be jealous of how his sister's

emotions are pampered. A girl could envy the time her brother spends wrestling with his

father. A child's position in the family can also play a role in sibling rivalry. We often

expect more from our first born children. By the time the 2nd and 3rd come along, the

rules loosen somewhat. And sometimes the baby of the family receives very special

treatment. Everyone tries to make her happy when she is mad or sad. At times the

youngest will be overly assertive to gain her equal place in the family.

All of these issues can play a part, but the most significant factor that affects

sibling rivalry is parental attitude. As parents, we know we should treat our children

equally and fairly. And most of us probably try very hard to do that, however

inconsistencies will still exist. There may be a child you get along better with because of

your personalities. Perhaps one or more of your children are easier to handle so they have

a tendency to receive more loving treatment from you. Children pick up on every bit of

inconsistency and they don't always understand why things are different for each child.

Older age children have more responsibilities, but more independence.

CHAPTER III: Methodology

This chapter describes the method of research used by the research team to

complete this study. It will explain the research design, research locale, samples and

sampling technique, instrumentation and method of collecting data, and the statistical

analysis employed by the research team.

Research Design:

The research team utilized the descriptive-normative form of research and

qualitative method for their study, with an open-ended questionnaire as the primary

source of data. The purpose of the descriptive method is to systematically describe the

situation or area of interest factually and accurately (Andres, 1998). It is the process of

gathering, analyzing, classifying and tabulating data and making accurate and adequate

interpretations with or without the aid of statistical methods.

Research locale

The study was conducted chiefly in the urban areas in Manila. This city, being

the nation’s capital, is a primary location for residential neighborhoods. Since the

respondents composed of parents and children, the residential areas in Manila is the best

location for the study.

Sampling Design

The research team selected their respondents through a pure random

sampling design. It is a sampling design in which every one in the population of the

inquiry has an equal chance to be included in the sample. It is also known as lottery or

raffle type of sampling. The research team selected 120 respondents, in which 60 are

parents and 60 are offspring, from different areas of Metro Manila through this design for

their survey


The research team constructed an open-ended questionnaire for the collection of

their data. There were two kinds of questionnaires constructed by the research team,

one for the adults and one for the children (Copies of the questionnaire may be found at

Appendix A). A cover letter was sent to the respondents along with the questionnaire.

The respondents were assured that they will be treated with strictest anonymity and

confidentiality, and that their responses will be used only for the purposes of research. (a

copy of the cover letter can be found at Appendix B)

Treatment of Data