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Sibling Rivalries

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I am in a family of five. I am the second oldest, I have an older sister a younger sister and two younger brothers. All my life I have felt as if my siblings team up on me. My two sisters have always been very close and so have my brothers. Whenever it comes to arguments I am always the one who is put down by the others. If I say something at one of them, the rest will automatically defend one of them and attack me. My two sisters have always been super close, however whenever I try to talk to one of them they kind of just disregard me. And every time I do something nice for one of my brothers, the next day they will get mad at me and claim I am the worst sister ever and I never do anything for anyone. Why is it my siblings always team up on me like this? (age 16, from US)

Sibling Rivalries

Answered by on -


Growing up in a larger family can be hard because there’s always a lot going on and lots of personalities to deal with. Being a middle child has it’s own set of challenges as well. However, allegiances and closeness usually shift back and forth over time. So even though it may not seem that your siblings are close to you now, there will be times in the future that they will be.

I’d suggest that you stop trying so hard to get them to like you and just be yourself.  Embrace your uniqueness and look for support and friendship outside of the family. Once you are confident and independent your siblings will either seek out your company or you will feel so good about yourself that it won’t matter even if they don’t.

Most of the books I’m familiar with on the subject are written more for parents, such as Siblings Without Rivalry, but you may still glean some tips and understanding by reading it, or a book or article about being a middle child or family birth order.

Be patient and put your energy into enjoying this time of your life.

All the best,

Dr. Holly Counts

Sibling Rivalries

Therapists live, online right now, from BetterHelp:

Holly Counts, Psy.D.

Dr. Holly Counts is a licensed Clinical Psychologist. She utilizes a mind, body and spirit approach to healing. Dr. Counts received her Bachelor’s degree in Psychology from Wright State University and her Masters and Doctoral degrees in Clinical Psychology from Nova Southeastern University. Dr. Counts has worked in a variety of settings and has specialized in trauma and abuse, relationship issues, health psychology, women’s issues, adolescence, GLBT, life transitions and grief counseling. She has specialty training in guided imagery, EMDR, EFT, hypnosis and using intuition to heal. Her current passion involves integrating holistic and alternative approaches to health and healing with psychology.

APA Reference
Counts, H. (2018). Sibling Rivalries. Psych Central. Retrieved on December 3, 2020, from
Scientifically Reviewed
Last updated: 8 May 2018 (Originally: 11 Jan 2016)
Last reviewed: By a member of our scientific advisory board on 8 May 2018
Published on Psych All rights reserved.