Jealousy Between Siblings: Why Does It Happen?

As soon as one child wants to play with the doll, the other naturally doesn’t want any other toys and they enviously take each other’s toys away? We provide information about what is going on in children and how parents should react.

Jealousy between siblings is a common problem and an age-old theme. A child is treated differently from its siblings, and this arouses the envy of its siblings. The other children feel neglected or treated unfairly because their parents forbid them what his sister or brother is allowed to do. Or they realize that mum or dad would much rather do handicrafts with their sister than romp around the playground with them. Or they may feel disadvantaged because their older brother has problems that demand their parents’ full attention, leaving little time to read stories to them.

Why there is jealousy among siblings

Just because kids are jealous of each other and fighting doesn’t necessarily mean they don’t like each other. But the feeling of being disadvantaged compared to his brother or sister makes a child jealous and this envy leads to many conflicts. Especially when the children are of the same gender and the age difference is less than three years, then the rivalry between them is great and causes a lot of tension. They provoke an argument to find out whose parents are taking sides. “Bad behavior like hitting or taking each other’s toys is often just a cry for attention,” says teacher and educational expert Kathrin Buholzer.

Children always want to be the center of parental attention and envy their siblings for the attention they receive from their parents. Siblings automatically compete, so to speak, for the attention of their parents, who they do not want to share so easily. To curb this, parents should consciously promote sibling love. There is a particular danger of neglecting sandwich children, i.e. the children between the firstborn and the youngest.

Parents should encourage sibling love

Sibling love is important because it shapes a child and their personality, as does rivalry with their siblings. Children compete for a place in the family hierarchy, jealously observing the role of siblings and the attention they get from mom or dad. Sibling love does not fall from the sky, it must grow and be nurtured.

This is how to prevent jealousy between siblings

Kathrin Buholzer, operator of the portal , recommends: “It is particularly important for parents to consciously take time for all their children in order to avoid jealousy. For example, the little ones’ afternoon nap can be used as a time to play with the older ones.”

  • Do not compare children with each other: Sentences like: “Your brother can do better than that!” promotes jealousy between children. In the worst case, parents convey feelings of inferiority to their child. Also, the child may get angry and want revenge on their sibling for the humiliation.
  • Every child has different strengths: Every child is a unique being and has its own particular strengths. Parents should highlight each child’s talent. Its uniqueness is important, and it should learn that from mom and dad.
  • Ensure equal treatment: Each child should be given sufficient attention. Also make sure that friends and relatives do not differentiate between the children.
  • Avoid unfair equal treatment: Children are different. They have different temperaments, are different ages and have different talents. Therefore, they need different parental care depending on their mental state. Putting a coward on stage just because his sibling has so much fun forcing a jock to take music lessons because everyone in the family plays an instrument, or sending all the kids to bed at the same time even though they’re different ages , children perceive as unfair.
  • Look for commonalities with all children: maybe mom is an artistic type, so is the eldest child, but the youngest is a little athlete and doesn’t care about anything else? Sometimes parents have more in common with one child than with another, so differences in the treatment of the children are almost inevitable. Parents should observe themselves critically. Where is the danger that they make differences? Parents should consider ways to prevent unfair favoritism.
  • Praise children together: It is important not to praise just one child at a time. Rather, parents should try to praise their children together, together as a group, such as “It’s great that you played so well together!” Or when praising one child, they should not forget to mention the other children.
  • Praise each child for their special abilities: Of course, parents should also praise children for their individual abilities, especially if they think that a child has a particularly large number of weaknesses. In doing so, they give each child the feeling that they are loved and do not have to fight for parental love with their siblings.
  • Stay specific: Praise should be very specific, i.e. not just “What a beautiful picture”, but “I particularly like the fish you painted”. The child senses when the praise is only superficial.
  • Don’t turn a child into a “problem child”: Parents should try to view their “warhorse” or their “crybaby” positively and concentrate on their strengths. You shouldn’t think, “If he or she would finally turn this or that off, then everything would be fine”. This would make it impossible for the child to grow out of their negative role.

How should parents react when children are jealous

  • Observe yourself: Does the child have a reason to be jealous? Maybe the parents were under a lot of stress, the older children’s problems at school took up a lot of time and the youngest really didn’t get enough? Parents should ask themselves when was the last time they spent time with just that one child.
  • Make time for each child: Parents should try to do something alone with each child. This makes the child feel important. They should respond to the special interests of the child.
  • Helping Children Resolve Conflicts: Children will always try to get their parents or a parent on their side. Parents find it difficult to find out what really happened and who provoked whom first. You should therefore not take sides, but show the children how they can resolve the conflict peacefully.
  • Intervene in the argument: Parents should intervene, especially when the first tears threaten. You should have each child explain what happened. The children must not interrupt themselves. It is important not to take sides, but to help the children find a peaceful solution. Parents should not play the policeman, but rather the mediator.
  • Avoid comparative remarks: With remarks such as “Your sister stayed clean too, why can’t you?” Parents hurt their child, unsettle it and increase its aggression towards its siblings.
  • Take Jealousy Seriously: Even though the child may be wrong, there is a reason for the jealousy. It is best for parents to let their child explain why they are jealous. You should talk to him and explain why he has to go to bed earlier than his older siblings, for example. Parents should consider whether the child can get compensation, something their older siblings don’t get.
  • Show the child an alternative to jealousy: Parents can make their child aware of the advantages of being taller or shorter. With that, they draw its attention to the perks it has.
  • Temporarily separate siblings: Sometimes it can ease the situation if the children are separated for a while and are supposed to be busy without each other. Children forget quickly and can also quickly make up again.
  • Bad feelings are allowed: Bad feelings should not be repressed, they are part of the child’s experience. Parents should show their children what can never be allowed, such as hitting or biting each other. Together with the children, they should consider how best to deal with their feelings and how they can react, such as hitting a special anger cushion.
  • Stay realistic: There can be no absolute justice between siblings. Being fair means giving each child what it needs. This is a process and parents will always have to learn something new and rethink. If they make a mistake, parents can correct it as best they can. In this way, the child learns from the example of the parents that they take it seriously and how to deal with mistakes.

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