The Importance of Recognizing and Putting a Stop to Sibling Jealousy
Sibling jealousy as been around since biblical times, and as history has shown us, can lead to devastating effects if not nipped in the bud. Despite many parents’ beliefs, sibling jealousy and rivalry is not something that will go away on its own if ignored. It must be dealt with, and quickly, before larger problems develop and become apparent.
Some of this behavior is troubling and downright scary. Keep in mind, this can be dealt with, and really should be, almost as soon as you recognize any of these signs. These traits and signs can develop and evolve as your children grow older and can turn into something much uglier and widespread. Often times even extended family can be brought into the fold, resulting in additional drama.
Recognizing Signs of Sibling Jealousy
Unfortunately, not all signs of jealousy between siblings are obvious; many times they are subtle and it takes a keen eye to spot them. If the child in question changes their behavior when their sibling comes into the room, a trigger reaction is happening. Maybe your child is excited to play with you and enjoy bonding time, but feels that as soon as their sibling comes into the picture it is no longer an option.
On the flip side of this, you may notice that when the sibling is around your child gets more clingy to you—possessive even. They may all of a sudden show a great amount of interest in hugs, kisses, snuggles, and sitting in your lap—anything to exclude their sibling or prevent them from having to share you.
You may also find that your child will throw temper tantrums for toys, clothes, sippy cups, etc that their sibling is using. Even if the toy in question has never interested your child, the simple fact that his or her sibling has it may be enough o set off a jealous rage.
Your child may even become destructive towards their sibling’s toys and belongings. If their sibling’s favorite toys are mysteriously being broken, or being decapitated in some cases, it is likely that your child is trying to hurt their sibling by taking something precious from them.
Ways to Reduce Sibling Rivalry and Jealousy
A lot of issues between siblings stem from one or both children feeling that they are not loved as much as the other; this is particularly common with a young child when a new baby is brought into the home. There are several things that you can do to assure both children that you love them equally and always will.
One of the most important things you can do is be equal and consistent with your rules and consequences. If your 7 and 8 year old kids are in the front yard and the younger runs into the street to fetch a ball or Frisbee, punishing only the 8 year old because they “should have known better” will result in a great deal of resentment. You could sit them both down and explain why it’s important to never do that and possibly give the 7 year old a punishment, but the 8 year old is not at fault here and it is not right or justified to punish the older one for the simple fact that they are one year older.
Also, it is important to make sure that you realize your children are going to have interests that are different, but just as important to each of them. If you always go to your daughter’s school plays, but never make it to your son’s swim meets, particularly if it is a known fact that you love plays, then this is a recipe for disaster. Just because you may not be a sports fan does not mean that one child’s interests can go on the back burner to your other child’s.
Along with this, make sure that you spend plenty of time with both of them, separately and together. This will let them each know that they are important and loved by you and that you still enjoy their one on one company.