What are the most common causes of sibling conflict?

Jeffrey Kluger, Science Journalist and Author, explains what the two most common causes of sibling rivalry are amongst children and how it affects their development in the long run
Sibling Rivalry - The Most Common Causes Amongst Children
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What are the most common causes of sibling conflict?

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The most common causes of sibling conflicts in older siblings, are often the same as in younger siblings. One of the scientists I had talk to for my book, had found in one of his studies, that 95 percent of conflicts among siblings concern property. Now, this makes a lot of sense, particularly, for smaller children. Property is the only way a small, helpless, completely dependent child has a beginning to project his or her control over their world. When they get a toy, it's their toy. They exert power over it. When someone encroaches on that power, there is going to be outrage and there's going to be a fight. The second most common cause of conflict, and this happens with older kids, is the sense of fairness. This is very good. Human beings come hardwired with a very clear sense of fairness. In fact, our fairness impulse runs through the same part of our brain as the disgust impulse, and that's how we react to something that seems unfair. Kids tend to over apply their sense of fairness. This makes sense if mom is dividing a cupcake because every millimeter of cupcake that goes to my big brother, by definition, comes out of my half, so I'm going to get angry. If, at the same time or with the same sibling, I come home from school and my brother has been home sick and has gotten to watch cartoons, I, as the younger brother, am apt to say, "That's not fair." Now, that's silly, that doesn't hurt me that he gets to watch cartoons, but to me it seems unfair. In the long run, it's good because kids practice their sense of justice. In the short run, it means fights.

Jeffrey Kluger, Science Journalist and Author, explains what the two most common causes of sibling rivalry are amongst children and how it affects their development in the long run

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Jeffrey Kluger

Science Journalist & Author

Jeffrey Kluger is a senior editor and writer at Time magazine, covering science, health and other fields. He is the coauthor, along with astronaut Jim Lovell, of Apollo 13, the book that served as the basis of the 1995 movie. His more-recent release, Splendid Solution, told the story of Jonas Salk and the Polio Vaccine.  His novel, Nacky Patcher and the Curse of the Dry-Land Boats, was published in June 2007, and his newest nonfiction book, Simplexity: Why Simple Things Become Complex, was published in June 2008.

Before coming to Time, Kluger worked for Discover magazine, where he was a senior editor and humor columnist. Prior to that, he was health editor at Family Circle magazine, story editor at The New York Times Business World Magazine, and Associate Editor at Science Digest magazine. His features and columns have appeared in dozens of publications, including The New York Times Magazine, Gentlemen's Quarterly, The Wall Street Journal, Cosmopolitan, Omni, McCall's, New York Magazine, The New York Post, Newsday, and, of course, Time. He has worked as an adjunct instructor in the graduate journalism program at New York University; is a licensed—though non-practicing—attorney; and is a graduate of the University of Maryland and the University of Baltimore School of Law. He lives in New York City with his wife Alejandra and their daughters, Elisa and Paloma.

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