Sibling Bullying or Rivalry

Sibling Bullying or Rivalry

Many people who grow up with siblings know it's not always a loving relationship. Brothers and sisters argue and fight and can cause frustration. A new study (

) also suggests this could lead to bullying.

"When you do look at it appropriately it is more common, then say, maybe bullying on social media or even bullying in the schools," said Lori Vann (

), a Licensed Professional Counselor Supervisor.

There's a very fine line between sibling rivalry and sibling bullying, according to Vann.

"A lot of times I think that a lot of parents are dismissive and go 'it's just rivalry, that's just siblings, that's what they do.' But if you really look at the definitions of abuse, whether physical or emotional, that's what's going on," said Vann.

Rivalry is healthy, according to Vann.

"There can be some chiding, and a little bit of taunting and what not, but at the heart of it the siblings are not trying to harm one another."

But parents need to step in when they hear name calling or threats. And if they see physical violence or intent to cause harm or ill will.

"I guess you have to summarize it by saying you have to look at the intent behind it," said Vann.

Vann explained that if any of those actions happen between siblings, it would be essential for parents to create a safe environment.

"It needs to be a sense of 'let's discuss this and really find out, hey what's going on here,' but the parent trying to be objective," said Vann.

One Texoma father, Tony Wolf, said it's his goal to do just that. Even though his three children are still young, he says it's all about how parents handle any type of rivalry.

"I would explain to them how, like I said, they wouldn't like to be treated like that and they shouldn't treat others like that," said Wolf.

It's at a young age, that children begin learning those social behaviors, according to Vann.

"Before you go off to school, if you have siblings that are somewhat close in proximity to your age, that's when you're first learning your social skills of how to play with others," said Vann.

Wolf said he doesn't agree that sibling bullying is more common than bullying in the school yard.

"With the siblings you can kind of control what's going on," said Wolf. "But with peer bullying you don't really have a chance to control everything that's going on."

Kristy Peterson agrees with Wolf. Peterson is the President of Bikers Against Bullying (

), an international organization dedicated to helping those who may be victimized by bullies.

"What we've seen with my organization is the school bullying. There's been a lot of, you know, In school bullying," said Peterson.

But the bullying problem is growing, and she can't tell where it's coming from.

"It could be coming from home and then filtering into the schools," Peterson said. "But it could also be the other way around. It could be being picked up at school and then filtering home."

Bullying can come from siblings, parents, and the school yard, according to Peterson.

"They are one in the same. And I think they play off each other a bit," Peterson said.

Although the source may be different, the impact of being bullied is the same.

"You know your children. You know how they are growing up. You can start to tell when one changes and when one starts to completely change who they were, versus who they are now," said Peterson.

Experts said many times, sibling bully cases go un-reported because children and their parents assume its natural behavior. If you suspect your kids may be bullying each other, or are being bullied you can reach out to the Wichita Falls based Bikers Against Bullying.