The supermarket would probably be a good place for a developmental psychologist to observe the interaction among siblings to see how they relate to one another. Previously, I posted about a brother and sister who fought over a package of chicken legs in a local market. Today, in the local butcher shop, I witnessed a similar altercation between two brothers.
The younger son was probably about 5 years old and the older perhaps 8. The younger one meandered around the shop and grabbed a box of Kiri cream cheese and proceeded to run all over the small crowded shop with it (sometimes colliding with other customers who were waiting their turn) while his mother ignored him.
After a few minutes of seeing his younger brother delightedly waving around this box of cheese (which his mother probably wasn't going to buy anyway), the older brother snatched it away from him and purposefully strode away. It was clearly a little power game. The younger brother then started howling and crying. The mother, of course, just ignored the whole thing.
This situation made me consider two things, one which I've thought of often when seeing kids in public and the other which hasn't occurred to me before. The first is why parents don't do anything about the disruptive behavior of their children in public. For one thing, her younger child was using food as a toy (I've seen this before) which someone else will probably buy later. For another, she didn't do anything about the competitive behavior of her older son which was clearly designed to taunt her younger son. And finally, she was completely indifferent to the other people in the shop who had to deal with the collisions and the screaming. It's parents like her who fuel the fires of "kid-free" advocates who regard parenthood with contempt.
The second thing I wondered was if I was just as obnoxious as a child. Even as an adult, I'm rather inclined to tease and torment for reactions (in what I hope is an endearing and humorous fashion). My husband is capable of resisting me and mainly just laughs at my attempts to goad him into reacting. To be fair, most of the things I do are meant to make him laugh.
As a child, I used to torment my poor sister all the time. She would be sitting somewhere reading her book peacefully and I'd do something or other to elicit a reaction. My most famous incident, which my mother frequently recounted to others with amusement, is when I did something (I don't remember what) to anger my sister sufficiently that she chased me outside in winter. I was barefoot. There was snow on the ground. But, I was still amused and satisfied with the response.
So, I can't say I don't understand why the kids may do what they do but I think the incidents I observed were more about robbing the younger child of something in a show of dominance whereas I tended to do what I did for attention (being the younger child of two, I wasn't really interested in power).