A Parent’s Guide to Jealousy Between Siblings

July 12, 2019
Envy and jealousy between siblings is a situation that families must often face. It's the responsibility of parents to help each of their children feel equally loved and valued.

From the time your second child is born, envy and jealousy between siblings can be a frequent problem. Despite that fact, if parents take the right measures, they’ll successfully keep the issue under control. The objective is to encourage love and mutual understanding among brothers and sisters.

Jealousy between siblings: What to do?

One of the biggest concerns that parents have comes up when quarrels, jealousy and envy arise among siblings. Of course, it’s natural for individual children to have their own personalities and argue. However, parents need to pay attention to this type of behavior before it turns into bigger problems.

In this sense, it’s important to differentiate between jealousy and envy. Envy has more to do with a sense of lacking and of wanting to take what another individual has.

In general, envy starts to appear when someone really wants what someone else has. It may be something tangible or intangible, such as an achievement, popularity, etc.

It’s important to point out that there’s a fine line between what’s considered healthy versus destructive envy. The first promotes effort and self-improvement in order to achieve the same as another.

Envy becomes destructive, however, when it gets in the way of those objectives, or those objectives become an unhealthy obsession. Envy is also destructive when it damages the relationship between both individuals.

Parents are, on many occasions and without realizing it, the first to promote these behaviors. One of the reasons is that they may show a possible preference for one of their kids. This may be for the child who behaves better, gets better grades, or is more athletic. Or it may have to do with birth order or gender.

A Parent's Guide to Jealousy Between Siblings

Of course, it’s important to encourage and recognize your children’s positive behavior. However, it’s also important to maintain balance and control over your reactions towards each one of your children.

The solution starts with being patient and demanding more balance and impartiality on your part towards your children. It’s important to internalize the fact that each child is different and unique, but no child is better than another.

Parents need to be attentive to the qualities and talents of each of their children and help them reach their potential.

Symptoms of envy and jealousy between siblings

Parents should pay attention to any changes in behavior that they observe in their children. This will make it much easier to take proper action according to each situation. In this sense, there are certain symptoms that parents need to keep under control.

Difficulty falling asleep

One of the main symptoms of jealousy between siblings, which arises most often with the birth of a new baby, is difficulty with sleeping.

Older siblings may try to seek their parents’ attention through this behavior in an unconscious way. However, over the course of a few months, things should go back to normal.

Hostility towards parents

On many occasions, children may become aggressive towards their parents. This is one of the most common ways to express jealousy. In this case, parents must make an effort to offer equal treatment, and also dedicate extra time if necessary.

How to prevent jealousy between siblings

Avoid comparisons

Comparisons are always unfair and, though it’s hard to believe, they’re the main cause of problems between siblings. The solution is very simple and within the reach of any parent: Stop making comparisons.

Each child is different and has different interests, abilities and skills. What’s more, every child has a unique personality and temperament. Don’t force your child to be or act like another.

A Parent's Guide to Jealousy Between Siblings

Encourage interaction among siblings

Encouraging siblings to spend time together and share activities is fundamental. This simple act helps them to feel equally loved and helps to prevent jealousy and envy.

In the case of the birth of a new baby, it’s important to instill love throughout the pregnancy. Then, once the baby is born, involve older siblings in caring for and playing with their baby brother or sister.

The fact of the matter is, envy and jealousy among siblings can be normal during certain moments and stages. However, to keep these feelings from growing, it’s important for parents to take necessary measures and encourage love and respect.

In day-to-day interactions, parents need to demonstrate balance in the reactions to and treatment towards their children. Avoiding comparisons is paramount, and parents should encourage each of their children so they all feel equally loved.