Sibling rivalry a positive thing for the Govers

It comes as a shock that the Govers brothers are more competitive against each other when it comes to golf rather than hockey.

The four Albion Park brothers – Kieran, Hayden, Scott and Blake – have all made their names in hockey, with Kookaburra star Kieran the leader of the pack.

They’ve each risen through the ranks of local and state hockey and attribute their success to each other, while growing up across the road from the University of Wollongong hockey fields also helped.

The Govers are a positive example of how sibling rivalry can push people to achieve more.

These days it’s just younger brothers Scott and Blake at home with dad Ian (also a former rep hockey player) and mum Jenny.

‘‘You’re always trying and if the older brother makes the team, then you keep trying ... you have that mindset,’’ says youngest brother Blake, when asked if sibling rivalry was a good thing.

While Ian says the boys have all learned from each other, Blake and Scott are quick to dismiss the idea they turn to each other too often.

‘‘It’s a lot of indirect stuff you learn,’’ Scott says. ‘‘You want to learn for yourself.’’

‘‘A lot of it’s self-taught,’’ Blake adds.

While there’s no snarly rivalry going on, Blake and Scott seem to enjoy dealing out the occasional ribbing. It shows as Scott shakes his head while Blake loudly strikes a hockey ball against the back fence.

Blake later jokes with his mum that Kieran’s trophies are noticeably displayed while his medals are laid flat or in unopened cases.

Jenny says the boys have always been great mates ever since the days they would muck around at the UOW hockey grounds.

‘‘Instead of going to the beach we played hockey,’’ Blake says.

‘‘We had a competition of who could hit all three posts the quickest [the left and right posts and the cross bar].’’

Ian adds that his boys also practised inside the house.

‘‘We had a games room ... the stereo was whacked, the billiard table was whacked ... you’d hear the ball banging all the time. They broke three windows and a sliding door ...they wouldn’t use a tennis ball, it had to be a hockey ball.’’

But the brothers never injured each other with their sticks – there was only the time when Hayden split Kieran’s head playing cricket.

These days it’s a rare occurrence for all four boys to be back home and when it does happen, they head straight for the golf course.

‘‘We like to see how much everyone’s improved their golf game,’’ Scott quips.

‘‘It gets more competitive than hockey,’’ Blake adds.

‘‘But Kieran’s maths isn’t the best,’’ continues Scott.

Jenny says it’s apparent that the boys have determined their own priorities, with Kieran and Blake committed to hockey, Hayden focused on his work as a police officer and Scott is also aiming to follow into the profession.

Blake, who is in the Australian Burras under 21 team, says he aims to one day match Kieran and play for the Kookaburras.

Sibling rivalry presents many opportunities, including healthy competition

Gerroa family therapist David Kerr says such rivalry can act in positive ways, helping children learn conflict resolution, promoting excellence in sport and academically, and building problem-solving skills, confidence and resilience.

‘‘It teaches them how to problem solve and negotiate, and I think it helps to build resilience too – it’s about being patient and waiting and taking turns,’’ Kerr says.

‘‘It helps them deal frequently with conflict. This helps them learn how to respectfully ask for what they want.’’

Kerr says research has shown that sisters tend to have closer relationships, while boys are naturally more prone to conflict.

He cites research by Professor of Human Development at Pennsylvania State University, Judy Dunn, which has found that from the age of 18 months siblings can understand family rules and know how to comfort and be kind to each other. By the age of three, the children can grasp social rules and can evaluate themselves in relation to their siblings.

‘‘Most people accept that there is always a certain level of sibling rivalry,’’ Kerr says.

He suggests strategies for parents to keep in mind to prevent sibling rivalry from turning nasty:

■ Understand that each child has different needs and interests.

■ Spend one-on-one time so that each child feels valued and has a special relationship with the parent.

■ Give each child a space  they can call their own – like their bedroom.

■ Ensure that each child has a special item that they don’t have to share with others.

■ Never compare children’s abilities.

■ Make sure everyone understands the rules of the household and that consequences are carried out.

■ Be affectionate with kids; with adolescents, touch them on the shoulder or give them a pat on 

the back.

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