Our Struggle with Sibling Jealousy

I tried to prepare my daughter to become a big sister before my son was born. We discussed how a baby requires a lot of attention. We talked to the baby growing in my belly and she snuggled him each night. I tried to get her used to falling asleep without being held by or snuggling with Mommy each night.

When my son arrived I tried to include my daughter in activities like singing to him, the three of us reading books together, asking her to “help” fetch a diaper or a toy for the baby. She never displayed any signs of feelings of jealousy or feeling ignored by me… until this summer.

I barely remember when my sister was born because I am three and a half years older than she is. I do remember being very excited that I would soon have a sister to play with; I expected we would have great fun and be best friends. After my sister was born, however, the newness and excitement wore off when I realized that my mom paid a lot of attention to the baby. The baby was too small to play with- she couldn’t play Barbies or play hide-and-seek or do any of the things I had envisioned us doing together.

I became jealous of my baby sister. So jealous that I cut all the hair off of my favorite Fraggle doll, Wembley. I don’t remember that time well enough to know if it was out of anger or if it was a bid to get attention from my mom, or what. I do know that I can sympathize completely with what my daughter must be experiencing. She had Mom & Dad’s full attention for a long time and now things are different.

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Now my sister Rachel and I are great friends, but it took a long time for us to get to that point. We were always just far enough apart in age that we didn’t get along.

My daughter just turned four years old and my son will be two in September. Now that they are a little older, Abby is becoming very jealous of her brother.

I try to explain that he is not as independent as she is; he requires diaper changes and help to undress and dress. He hasn’t started to use a lot of words yet so he does a lot of pointing and grunting that I have to decipher to figure out what he wants. He is still somewhat relatively new to walking and running and will often trip over his own feet or run into things (I think both kids inherited my terrible coordination and clumsiness) and then want Mom to hold him. He has been teething like mad in the last couple of months and still wakes up often in the night. He will often crawl up onto my lap if I sit down and only likes me to put him to sleep at night. She likes to give him hugs and kisses and becomes upset when he doesn’t want her to.

Abby has recently started to act out and get into trouble. She will repeatedly do something I ask her not to do, ignore me when I tell her something, refuse to comply with instructions, sigh, and roll her eyes. If I didn’t know better I’d think she was a teenager. One day I finally asked her why she was doing this and she told me it was because she wanted my attention.

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I tried to assure her that I try to give her just as much attention as I give to her brother, but sometimes it can’t always be even. If she needs attention from me she should say, “Mom, I need your attention,” rather than misbehaving to get the wrong kind of attention.

I’ve tried to have her help me with chores like setting the table for supper and folding laundry. I try to do activities like drawing together or painting her fingernails. I try to let her pick which books we read at night. I try to give her extra hugs and kisses and words of reassurance, but I still feel as though I am disappointing her.

The funny thing is she has told my husband and I that she wants a baby sister. She brings it up at random times and sometimes even begs. She obviously does not understand that adding a baby to our family would mean that even more of my attention would be divided.

Have you ever been in this situation with your children? Do you have any advice? I would love to hear from you!

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One thought on “Our Struggle with Sibling Jealousy

  1. the Mindberg says:

    Definitely an important issue, and a tricky one too. Our eldest definitely feels the impact of having a younger sibling. As an only child I’ve never faced it but therefore can really empathise- i would’ve hated another being sweeping into my family unit.
    As a parent, I’ve learnt you like you to rides the waves, pay attention give the love and ‘love bomb’ as Oliver James writes.
    Peace and love,
    Spence 😀

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