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My Sister Is Driving Me Nuts! How to Deal With Sibling Rivalry

What to do when your brother or sister is your major source of drama.
By
WebMD Feature
Reviewed by Laura J. Martin, MD

Having a sister has its definite advantages. When you want to borrow a skirt to go with your new sweater, or gossip about this really cute guy at school, just head to her room. If you need to gripe about your Mom and Dad, she can totally relate. And honestly, who else in this world knows you better than your sister?

On the flip side, having a sister has some major disadvantages, too -- especially if she's the star athlete and straight-A student, while you trip over your own feet every time you run and can barely keep a C average.

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Being jealous of your sister (or brother) is totally normal. It's called sibling rivalry, and just about everyone with a sibling has had to deal with it.

Here are a few of the reasons behind sibling rivalry, and what to do if your sister (or brother) is making you crazy.

Sibling Squabble 1: I'm Living in My Sibling's Shadow

Your sister has just brought home her umpteenth soccer trophy, which your parents have placed prominently in the living room case, right next to her cross-country, swimming, and gymnastics trophies. Every person who comes to visit is marched over to that trophy case so your parents can rave about how proud they are of their "little soccer star!"

Meanwhile, you feel invisible.

Whether your sister is stunningly beautiful, a perfect student, or a star athlete, she hogs the spotlight, while you disappear into the darkness of her shadow. You watch as she snags all the cute boys, the As, and the medals. And what do you get? Nada.

It's even worse when your parents constantly praise your sister or ask, "Why can't you be more like her?" That kind of needling can make you really hate your parents -- and hate your sister for being so perfect.

"That can be a real source of bad feelings between sisters," says Anthony E. Wolf, PhD, a child psychologist in Longmeadow, Mass., and author of Mom, Jason's Breathing on Me! The Solution to Sibling Bickering.

Living in your sister's shadow can make you feel awful about yourself -- so awful that you can even get depressed. "If they really take it to heart, it can affect their mood," says Peter Goldenthal, PhD, a psychologist practicing in the Philadelphia area. He also wrote a book about sibling issues, called Beyond Sibling Rivalry.

Sibling Squabble 2: She Gets All the Good Stuff

If you're fighting with your sister or brother, chances are it's because you're competing over possessions (like having to share the MP3 player or cell phone), territory (who's in control of the couch or TV remote), or attention.

All three of these things are in limited supply, and if you live in a house with siblings, you're always going to be fighting for your share of them.

Privileges are another issue, especially if there's an age difference between you and your sibling. Having to sit at home watching TV with your parents on a Friday night while your older sister gets to go out with her friends can seem really unfair. Seeing her get to drive or date before you can also be hard to take.

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