Sibling Relationship: What if there is Jealousy?
Who gets the bigger piece of cake? Who gets the red M&M’s and who gets the longer good night kiss from daddy? A constant jealousy between siblings can drive parents crazy. But such sibling relationships are normal. The little sister or the big brother is a role model, competitor, teacher and troublemaker at the same time. In any case, siblings are inextricably linked, so it is normal that jealousy can arise.
The new sibling is here – Uh-oh
When the big brother wants to have his little brother returned again only four weeks after the birth because he can’t even play football but is permanently on mommy’s arm, jealousy is totally normal. Also when the big sister ignores her little just newborn sister in the hospital and takes away all the soft animals which were supposed to be for the newborn, there is no reason to despair.
Who wants to be dethroned?
Psychologists explain the frustrating experience of the firstborn as a “dethronement-shock”, when a sibling is born. The mother only cared about him or her, and immediately they need to share the parents’ love and attention. There are many reasons to defend the throne for a little princess or a little prince.
Several studies showed that babies show jealousy from the age of six months when a mother fondles a lifelike doll but remain completely calm when the mother looks at a picture book. And the same happens with siblings. And as soon as the younger sibling is able to crawl and take away the toys, the jealousy of the elder often turns into aggression.
Is the big one the bigger baby?
It is quite often that the big brother or the big sister start to act like a baby when a newborn is in the house, then the little baby has obvious advantages. So they try to get back the advantages in acting like a baby. They want to drink again from the feeding bottle, want to wear diapers or start to talk the baby language.
If they become quite clingy to the mother, it can be difficult for her.
In general, the siblings realize pretty quickly that the “baby-tactics” do not have the desired consequences and result only in punishment. Most start to realize that being a role model is not a bad thing and try out all kind of new things to be better than the newborn.
But of course the jealousy doesn’t stop. They still struggle for attention and love of the parents. The reason for jealousy is mostly the constant comparisons between the siblings. They will always know what the brother gets, what they don’t get and what the sister is already able to do. It is normal that in a sibling relationship everything is not hunky-dory.
Brothers are different than sisters
Brothers rival among themselves much more, while it is more civilized between sisters. The least jealousy is between mixed-gender sibling pairs. And younger siblings generally suffer less from jealousy because they never had mom and dad just for themselves and are accustomed to share from the beginning.
When the parents turn a knife in the wound
Parents often unknowingly turn a knife in the wounds of jealousy by assessing their offspring and their different abilities. Statements like “the big one is unathletic”, “the little one doesn’t need to be reminded to do his homework” and so on reflect the different preferences of the parents to the children.
But parents can do much to keep the jealousy as low as possible. Here are some tips:
- Try not to praise the new born as a playmate. The first-born will quickly realize that it is not true that you can build sand castles or can play football with the little one.
- Let the big one help with the baby care. Ask him or her questions like “What do you think the sibling should wear today” or “Why do you think is he crying?”
- Don’t be afraid to show your joy for having the newborn – it doesn’t promote jealousy but also has a contagious effect in the long term on the elder one.
- Don’t compare your children together and above all, don’t compare the behavior of kids with sentences like “Your sister helps me always to set the table”. Sentences like this will exactly turn a knife in the wound.
- Stay as neutral as possible when the children are fighting. And don’t think that the little one is always innocent.
- Do not demand that a child is subordinate to the other, even though if one is a few years older. So avoid sentences like “Do what your elder brother said.”
And last but not least, nobody can choose the siblings. It is the same for everybody. You love some especially, while you fight with some the whole life. But whether you are first born, in the middle or the last born, the siblings will help you to manage life easier in the future.
The long relationship that you share with your siblings cannot be compared to any other. The brother and sister quarrels are as old as mankind. So next time you are about to despair, just think about your sibling relationship and you will remember, that your kids will learn a lot for life.