Siblings survival guide
Smart solutions for your brother bother and sister strife.
Problem: Your brother or sister is ripping off your image, and stealing your clothes and music.
Solution: It can be deeply irritating when a younger brother or sister begins to shape their lifestyle by borrowing from yours. Before you tackle the situation, however, it's important to take a positive view.
They have chosen you to be their role model, and in some ways you should be flattered. In order to develop their own identity, they have chosen yours as a blueprint. As his/ her confidence grows, however, so his/her look will develop into something unique to them as an individual. Thankfully, this copying phase won't last forever.
By all means talk to your brother or sister about your feelings, just don't leap down their throat or make them feel embarrassed. Instead, why not help to offer and advise him/her in finding a look of their own. You stand a better chance of persuading them to respect your identity if you can keep them on your side.
Problem: You're always fighting and bickering and you're sick of it.
Solution: Try not to think of this conflict with your sibling as something that can only end in victory or defeat. Instead, look for a compromise. A way of meeting in the middle so you can both live without grief under the same roof.
Just choose a quiet moment to discuss things with them. Raising the subject in the middle of a row won't get you far, but if you're calm in your approach then at least you can expect the same in their response. Then, once you're talking, try to identify the flash points in your relationship and see if there's a way you can both avoid or overcome them.
You may not be close to your brother or sister, but next to your parents they understand you better than anyone else. It's not compulsory to be the best of friends, but if you both make the effort to respect each other's space you'll get along just fine. If this doesn't seem to work, you might have to call your parents in and have a family meeting to work out a solution, especially if there is physical violence or bullying going on.
Problem: Everything they do seems better, shinier and more rewarding. From relationships to exam results, you can't help feeling second best.
Solution: Being in a family is not a competitive event. You play an equal role, despite being individuals that shine in different ways. Even if your brother or sister happen to outclass you in certain things, there are bound to be others where you excel. Talk to you parent/s or carer. They'll assure you that their care and affection for you all is equally shared. Don't go thinking you're loved any less or a sibling is loved any more. Even if they appear to be getting more attention, there are bound to be times when you're in the spotlight. It all levels out in the end. At the same time, identify things you're good at, and build on it. This can only boost your self-esteem, which is often what causes the green-eyed monster to arise in the first place.
Siblings in trouble
Problem: You may have life sussed, but things might not be so rosy for a brother or sister. It might be problems with drink, drugs or eating disorders, abusive partners or trouble with the law. Whatever's happened, you're bound to be worried.
Solution: The most effective way you can deal with a sibling in need is to recognise that only they can make the decision to accept your help. You can't force them to give up cigarettes, for example, or leave a boyfriend because he's bad news. What you can do, however, is let them you're concerned, and ready to offer all the help and support they need when they feel ready to tackle the issue at stake. You may not get a positive response immediately, but at least they'll know that they can turn to you when the time feels right to shape up their life.
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