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Video: How to recognize and deal with sibling rivalry

updated 6/8/2006 11:48:56 AM ET 2006-06-08T15:48:56

In Western countries, 80 percent of people have at least one sibling. And among those families, chances are there is some type of rivalry. Cain and Abel may have been the first siblings to have problems getting along, but they certainly weren’t the last. Dr. Ruth Peters, a clinical psychologist and "Today" contributor, was invited on the show to talk about the dynamics of rivalry between adult brothers and sisters. Here are a few of Dr. Peters’ tips on how you can try to repair a relationship:

Be introspective
Are your perceptions real? Take an honest look at your behavior and try to determine if you’ve overreacted in the past. In a close and emotionally charged relationship with a sibling, it’s possible to blow minor incidents out of proportion.

Get feedback
Bounce your feelings off a best friend, spouse or counselor to get a reality check. A more objective observer may be able to tell you whether you may have misinterpreted your sibling’s actions or behavior.

Open up
The best way to clear the air may be to talk to your sibling directly. Arrange a meeting on neutral ground and approach it with an open mind. Be careful not to use judgmental language. Instead use phrases such as, “my perception is…” or “I feel that…”. Not only do you need to take ownership of your feelings, but you also don’t want to put your sibling on the defensive.

Be open-minded
If you ask your sibling to tell you his side of the story, then you'd better be prepared to listen. You may not want to hear what he has to say, and you may disagree with his perceptions, but you have to keep an open mind if you want to try to salvage your relationship.

Don't expect an apology
If you’re able to reconcile with each other, that’s great. If not, don’t think your meeting was a failure. Even if you and your sibling still don’t see eye-to-eye, take comfort in the fact that you and he expressed your feelings and possibly clarified some outstanding issues. And remember, if you can’t have a healthy relationship with your sibling, be prepared to move on.

© 2013 MSNBC Interactive.  Reprints


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