The Jealousy between siblings Can be defined as a state of frustration that children feel when they perceive that they are no longer emotionally Loved ones (parents, grandparents, etc.) or at least with the same intensity as before.
Among the most frequent causes that lead a child to show jealousy towards another are the following:
Birth of a new sibling, especially when he is between 2-5 years old.
Perception of ineffectiveness compared to siblings.
Asymmetrical care of the parents towards the children.
At other times, the causes of children to be jealous are not"real", but are imaginary, as perceiving that the other brother receives More attention or better toys, when it is not true.
In any case, even when jealousy is not provoked by the parents, the way in which they deal with the situation is decisive for Reduce them.
Symptoms of sibling jealousy
Detecting the background that provokes jealousy between your children will help you act on them and prevent them from occurring, reducing problems Emotional and behavioral.
With regard to the most common manifestations of childhood jealousy, we can find the following:
They begin to behave like a little boy. Frequently, when a new sibling arrives, the child acquires behaviors that he had already abandoned, such as peeing in bed, talking as A small child or sit on the lap of the parents.
Alterations in feeding. Children can also manifest their emotional difficulties through food, refusing to eat, for example.
They show aggressive behavior. Sometimes they behave aggressively with the same person who produces jealousy, like his little brother - he sticks, pulls his hair, pushes him, etc.-.
Verbal aggression. Other times, children choose to insult or threaten their siblings or parents.
Emotional discomfort. Many children have emotional problems arising from jealousy, such as low self-esteem Or feeling of personal ineffectiveness. This can also
Detected through humor changes Unjustified and drawings in which they show the perceived inequality.
As you can see, childish jealousy has serious consequences for the proper development of the child, affecting negatively in several areas of his lifetime.
Surely you have felt frustration at the jealousy of your children, since, in your opinion, you show an egalitarian attitude towards all of them.
Tips for dealing with sibling jealousy
1. Give more affection from the moment you learn that you are going to have a brother
From the moment you communicate that the family is going to grow, your firstborn son will need to show you especially affectionate, do not give him On the side of family conversations, or talking about the future baby in excess when he is present.
Involving him in the preparations will help him get involved and feel the excitement of the new member of the family.
For example, you can decide between all the name that the baby will have or choose the decoration of your room.
It is also important that you do not hide information about what will happen from now on: let you know the days you will be away with some days In advance - while you are in the hospital - with whom you will stay - with grandparents, uncles, etc. - and what will happen when the baby is born.
Make him see the benefits of having a little brother, like you can play with him, you will not feel alone, etc.
Once you have had the baby, after returning home, it is important that you show up especially sensitive and show attention to your child - not only with the baby-.
This is a moment in which the first-born knows that the family situation has changed and needs the support of his father and his mother to face the situation.
Therefore, you must be very happy to have returned home and that you can all be together.
Make him see, too, that you will continue to pay close attention to him, even though there is now a new member in the family.
To make this method even more effective, it advises visitors that they should pay attention to the first-born, just as they used to do before Of the arrival of his brother.
2. Show photos to your firstborn when you were a baby
Showing him pictures of when he was little will help you explain how happy you were in the early stages of your upbringing.
Make him see how excited you were before his arrival, the names you had intended to put him and some anecdotes of when he began to speak or walk.
This is essential for your child to understand that he also received the care and attention that you will begin to have with the new baby.
3. Prevents the firstborn from undergoing major changes
Whenever possible, prevent your child from experiencing major changes after the baby is born, such as having to change rooms, Less time with their parents, abandoning extracurricular activities, etc.
Nor is it time to try to leave the diaper or the pacifier, since during this stage of instability and changes will not be so willing to perform New modifications in your life - and for you it will be a useless effort.
All changes that occur in this stage so vulnerable to their development will attribute them to the arrival of the new family member, so they can Developing or increasing existing jealousy.
4. Give new responsibilities to your firstborn
In order for your child to become the big brother, once the baby is born, you should make him / her share in your care and attention.
For example, ask him to let you know if he cries, wraps or plays with him while he is awake.
Reinforce these behaviors by telling him how well he is behaving or by buying him some award from time to time - A new toy , Their favorite dessert, etc.-.
In addition, you must make him see the advantages of becoming an older child, so that he avoided behaving like a smaller child, as we commented Previously, through behaviors that he had already abandoned - peeing in bed, rejecting certain foods, among others.
5. Divide care and attention to both children
A good way to provide the same attention to your children is that your partner and you share the care tasks for both children.
For example, while the mother is feeding the baby, the father can shower the firstborn or play with him.
At another time, the father can bathe the baby while the mother tells a story to the eldest.
In this way, the activities and care of personal grooming are alternated, reason why the minors do not have sensation of"abandonment"on the part of one of The parents.
6. Be empathetic with your children
If you perceive a Disruptive behavior In your child or behaviors of isolation - because of childish jealousy - try to approach him or her by empowering That he speaks of his own feelings, instead of just scolding him.
Make him see that he is in a safe space where he can vent, show his feelings openly and that you will listen to him whenever he Need.
Do not tell him at any time that there is no reason to be jealous, but try to change the situation by offering alternatives.
In this way, facing the emotions you experience - instead of suppressing or denying them - you can overcome your childish jealousy.
To show a more empathic attitude, you can start the sentence by saying:"you're right, we've been paying more attention lately to your Brother, from now on, we are going to change this attitude".
You can also suggest that I tell you openly when you need to pay attention or be more affectionate.
7. Avoid comparisons between your children
From the moment the family grows, you should avoid making comparisons like"your brother cries less,""he or she behaves better,"etc.
Even some seemingly harmless comments, such as rating one of them as more timid, can hurt you when it comes to socializing - Who assumes that he is a person who finds it difficult to make friends.
If you want to make some reference to how well one has behaved, try to focus on the specific moment in which it has occurred, for example: "Today your brother has behaved especially well in the mall."
As you can see, you can refer to the good behavior of one of the brothers without the need to generalize the behavior, with phrases such as:"eres Very disobedient"or"your brother is more obedient than you".
If both are in school and receive school grades, you should be especially cautious with comparisons in terms of academic performance.
This is usually another great reason why one of the brothers develops jealousy towards the other.
So try to be happy about the academic results of both and other members of the family.
Highlight your strengths instead of Focus your attention Negative notes - in which you could help by having a Support or helping yourself.
8. Power your children's self-esteem
The self esteem Is the appreciation we have of ourselves and the confidence we have in our abilities.
It is shaped over time based on our experience, the successes and failures that we have in our lives.
In the case of children, self-esteem is very vulnerable, due to the short experience they have in their personal lives, so you should help them Develop this quality.
If your children grow up with sufficient self-confidence and do not have serious problems of self-esteem, they will have a better development in other areas, such as The educational, social or emotional.
To boost their self-esteem, let them see that they have enough affection on the part of their parents - so that they develop a secure attachment - and that they have Many capacities and positive qualities.
Teach them that, even if they fail in some area, they can improve with effort and get what they are proposing - for example, Demonstrates that they can get back with the right effort.
If your children have adequate self-esteem, you will see how jealousy between siblings is reduced progressively.
9. To increase the time dedicated to activities of leisure in family
If you spend enough time having fun and doing family activities, you can strengthen your emotional ties.
For example, if you travel with your family, you can see how your children spend more time playing together, since they can not be with their usual friends.
Therefore, you should begin to increase family breaks, day trips and activities that are attractive for children, from So that the family climate is more positive and jealousy between siblings is diminished.
In addition, you will be instilling in your children healthy habits of life and they will be growing in an enriching environment.
10. Consult a specialist if symptoms become worse
Although in most cases this jealousy over time - or thanks to some changes that parents make - in other cases Becomes pathological, causing serious havoc in the normal development of the child who suffers them, and interfering negatively in the family dynamics.
Therefore, if you perceive that the behavior of your son or daughter is getting worse or takes a long time without showing progress, you should contact a Specialist to advise you on the need to start a personalized therapy.
The specialist can tell you if it is a simple case of jealousy for children or there are other reasons why your child's behavior is inadequate.
These are our tips for you to eliminate or reduce jealousy among your children.
And you, what other advice would you add to parents who suffer jealousy between siblings?
- Freijo, E.A. (2000). Interaction between siblings and psychological development: An educational proposal. Educational innovation , (10), 311-33I.
- Hidalgo Latorre, E. Children's jealousy. Enfoques Educativos digital magazine, 168.
- Ríos, C. (2002) ). Suffering for possessive jealousy. Psychoanalysis , 24 (3), 389-401.
- Silveyra, M. L. Complex of brothers and unconscious knowing.