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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.

Sibling Squabble 3: We Just Can't Get Along

There's no polite way to say it: You HATE your sister. When you two are together, all you do is fight. She is a total (word that rhymes with witch).

Siblings fight for many reasons, one of which is different personalities. One sister might be quiet and shy, while the other is loud, bossy, and constantly craves attention. They're like oil and water -- they just don't mix.

A second reason siblings fight is age differences. Older kids naturally get more privileges, like having a later bedtime or being allowed to watch PG-13 movies. That can make their younger siblings really jealous -- which brings us to the third reason siblings fight. Jealousy. One sibling is almost always going to have something the other sibling wants -- whether it's clothes, a cell phone, or their parents' attention.

Believe it or not, one of the biggest reasons why siblings fight is that they're so comfortable with each other. "The person you feel safest allowing all your stress to come out at is your sibling," says Wolf. So when your sister has had a lousy day at school, who does she take it out on? You guessed it -- you. "They sort of become a punching bag for each other," he says.

What to Do When Sibling Rivalry Is Getting to You

If you're tired of living in your sibling's shadow or bickering all the time, or you're ticked that you're not getting an equal share of the resources and attention at home, the best thing to do is get your gripes out in the open. Talk it out with one or both of your parents.

When you do get ready to talk, time it right. Don't just run to your parents fuming over the latest nasty thing your sister said to you. Take some time to cool off first. "Talk when the issue is not happening at that moment," Goldenthal advises.

Also check that your parents are in the right frame of mind before you talk to them. "Not when they're super busy, not when they're tired," Goldenthal says. Prep them for the talk. "You want to say, I've got this problem I want to talk about. Is this an OK time?"

Explain the problem, but try not to yell at or blame your parents. If you storm into the room and scream, "You love her more than me!" you're not going to get anywhere. Calmly tell your parents how you feel in a nonjudgmental way. Say something like, "It really upsets me when you always tell me how smart Samantha is, but you never recognize how hard I work in school."

It might be that your parents don't realize they're treating your sibling differently than they treat you. Letting them know that it bothers you when they praise your sister or brother and criticize you might finally send them the message and make them stop doing it.

If your parents still don't get it, turn to another adult -- an aunt, coach, teacher, or guidance counselor who makes you feel good about yourself, Wolf suggests.

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