Dependent Relationships Between Siblings

Dependent relationships between siblings have certain implications that we must be aware of. Here's what you need to know.
Dependent Relationships Between Siblings

Last update: 26 February, 2022

All parents want their children to love each other and for the relationship between them to be good, for them to play and understand each other, to respect each other and, of course, to love each other. But, what happens if dependent relationships develop between them? What can parents do if this happens?

There are many siblings who love and want to be together all the time, and there’s nothing wrong with this. However, there are some aspects that can indicate that this relationship of dependence isn’t healthy. It’s important that from an early age we encourage their union but always set a limit to promote a healthy relationship between them. We’ll tell you everything you should know about this, so keep reading.

Characteristics of siblings with dependent relationships

Siblings with dependent relationships have some characteristics that can help us to identify them. This relationship can be mutual (both are dependent on each other) or there’s one that’s more dominant and one that’s more dependent. Let’s look at the characteristics of these dependent siblings:

  • They play together all the time.
  • They can’t be separated from each other.
  • They share the same friends.
  • They have the same likes and dislikes and do the same activities.

If you notice the main characteristic of these siblings is that they can’t be separated, they’re not well if they’re not together. For that reason, from the time they’re small, we must teach them that it’s good that each one has their own things and that they also enjoy their time apart.

What to do to avoid dependent relationships between siblings

Siblings sleeping in the same bed.

Parents can help so that the relationship between our children doesn’t become dependent, and for that, we can take into account the following advice:

Encourage the independence of each one

It’s very good for each one to have their own activities, take responsibility for their own things, and solve their problems on their own without needing the other sibling. What parents should do is to offer resources to the children so that they learn to do things without each other.

Some good options are:

  • Sign them up for different extracurricular activities so that each has their own experiences to share.
  • Dedicate time to each one according to their interests.
  • Prepare different rooms so that each one has their own room and sleeps separately.
  • If they’re twins, in order to make them independent, experts recommend that they attend separate classes. However, each family has the last word and can freely choose what they think is best for their little ones.

Now, we shouldn’t force them into anything. Although we provide them with resources to encourage their independence, we must respect how they decide to spend their time and with whom to share it.

Educate children without stereotypes or roles associated with the order of their birth

As we’ve said before, the relationship of dependence can mutual, or there may be one child that’s more dominant. In the latter case, it’s important that we identify it and act correctly.

First of all, we must strengthen the assertiveness and decision-making abilities of the more submissive or dependent sibling. In this way, they’ll be able to strengthen their self-esteem and self-confidence.

On the other hand, we must analyze the more dominant sibling in case we’re unconsciously educating them to be like that. For example, labeling the children according to their birth order. If we educate older siblings with the belief that they have to protect, take care of, make decisions for, and take responsibility for their younger sibling, we’re unintentionally putting them in the role of the dominant child.

Playing role reversal between siblings

We all know that, through play, we can reach children better. We can play role reversal, i.e., reverse roles, by encouraging the more dependent sibling to take the initiative, and the more dominant one to play a supporting role.

An example of role reversal is letting the more submissive sibling choose the movie you’re going to see, where you’re going to go on an outing, etc. Anything you can think of that encourages role reversal can be useful.

Each one must have their own responsibilities

You must provide each of the siblings with their own responsibilities, in addition to the school chores that each one has, they must also have home chores. One can be in charge of setting the table and the other of clearing it, among others that we can think of.

Promote decision making in the more dependent sibling

We must motivate the more submissive sibling to be the first to make a certain decision or to tell us what they think of something. We can do this in moments of daily life, for example, choosing a board game to play together, the clothes they want to wear, or even the flavor of yogurt they want, etc.

Siblings fighting over a scooter.

Regarding the toxic relationships between siblings…

In short, we shouldn’t consider it a bad thing that siblings want to be together, understand each other, have fun, and feel comfortable like this. The problem arises when we see that this relationship of dependence harms other areas of their lives, makes it impossible for them to make their own decisions, or to relate to other children. If you see that this is your case, it’s important to seek the help of experts to help you address the situation.

All cited sources were thoroughly reviewed by our team to ensure their quality, reliability, currency, and validity. The bibliography of this article was considered reliable and of academic or scientific accuracy.

This text is provided for informational purposes only and does not replace consultation with a professional. If in doubt, consult your specialist.