Jul 15, 2009

Blaming Others, Tattling, Cheating

In families with more than one child, the children are obviously competing to get parental rewards and avoid punishment. They soon learn another coping mechanism: put the others at a disadvantage, discredit the other children, make them look bad, tattle, shift the blame. This formula is simple--"By making the other guy look bad, maybe I will look good." How defeating for parents; they want cooperative behavior from their kids, but by using rewards and punishment they breed competitive behavior--sibling rivalry, fighting, ratting on brother or sister:

"She got more ice cream than I did."
"How come I have to work int he yard when Joe doesn't?"
"He hit me first--he started it all."
"You never punished Ericka when she was my age and did the same things I'm doing now."
"How come you let Eddie get by with everything?"

Much of the competitive bickering and mutual blaming among children can be attributed to the parents' use of rewards and punishment in child-rearing. Since no one has the time, temperament, or wisdom to dispense rewards or punishments fairly and equally at all times, parents are inevitably going to create competition. It is only natural that each child wants to get most of the rewards and see her brothers and sisters get most of the punishment.

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