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Sibling rivalries can be healthy if managed properly

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Serena Williams (left) of the USA and Venus Williams of the USA pose before their women's semifinals match in the Rogers Cup at Uniprix Stadium on August 9, 2014 in Montreal, Canada.  (Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images)

Serena Williams (left) of the USA and Venus Williams of the USA pose before their women’s semifinals match in the Rogers Cup at Uniprix Stadium on August 9, 2014 in Montreal, Canada. (Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images)

NEW YORK — The field of competitive play can already be challenging enough in its own context.

Add a sibling and then it becomes complicated.

There are plenty of examples of it.

Of course on this day it is Venus and Serena Williams who are taking center stage at the U.S. Open.  However, in the NFL we have seen the competitiveness between the Giants Eli Manning as well as his big brother Peyton.  Of course, who can forget the Harbaugh brothers? Head coaches, Jim and John, who made history squaring off in Super Bowl 47.

Tim Townsend is a 2-time coach of the year golf instructor at Chelsea Piers. He knows sibling rivalries all too well, “I see it frequently. I see it in all different forms.”

As a senior PGA Teaching Professional who has taught thousands of juniors Townsend says there are pros and cons in sibling rivalries, “I think it can work. I think it can make both of them better, they work harder, they try harder and it inspires both of them.”

Townsend is not alone in his assessment. Dr. Kristin Carothers agrees, “I think that a little sibling competition can be healthy. The message you want to send is that children are equally loved.”

Dr. Carothers is a clinical psychologist who specializes in children at the Child Mind Institute in midtown.  While most rivalries tend to be close in age and are based on children craving their parent’s attention and approval.  Dr. Carothers says that there are those cases where the parents unwittingly are the ones fueling the rivalry, “Sometimes parents may unknowingly encourage some aspects of a sibling rivalry by paying more attention to what one kid does than what another child does and so it’s just as important that parents try and present an even playing field and try to make sure that they are giving as much praise and positive attention to all of their kids.”

Oh by the way, Dr. Carothers also admits with a smile that, “I am an only child.”

Back at Chelsea Piers, PIX11 News found Andrew Sample aiming for the greens.  The 10-year-old has blueprints to become a pro.  However, before the PGA Tour comes calling he has to manage his sibling rivalry with his 12-year-old older brother, which he says tends to pop up unexpectedly, “We don’t know when it’s going to happen? Where it’s going to happen? It just happens.”

Andrew makes it clear that when it does, he is determined to win at any cost, “I kind of start acting like there are five seconds left on the clock and I need to make a three.  I don’t care if it hurts his feelings and if it means I get to beat him I’ll do it.”

However, seconds after sharing his determination he is quick to admit that, “He treats me better than I treat him I have to admit.”

Christopher Stoudt coach’s Andrew as well as his older brother. A teaching pro for over 10 years Stoudt is cognizant of sibling rivalries with potential clients even if he has just met them, “Generally there is some type of rivalry.”

Stoudt adds that it does not take too long to adjust his coaching style to the dynamics of the two siblings he will be coaching, “Within the first hour I can figure it out pretty quickly.”   When asked what specifically it is that he is looking for? “Just how they react to games and how they can of behave around games with each other.”

What happens if the competition just isn’t there for a day? We asked Andrew, if he pulls  for his brother to win when they are not competing against each other? “Yes, because the car ride home wouldn’t be as fun if he didn’t.”