No matter who you are, where you’re from, and what your background is, if you have more than one child, you’ve likely dealt with jealousy between them. No matter how careful you are to make sure everybody is treated fairly, you’ve probably been accused by one or all of your children as “favoring” their sibling.
Nobody tries to favor one child over the other, but it can happen, just by parents inadvertently being more connected to one child than another. For example, if you and/or your spouse and one child are outdoors-type people who love nature, boating, and swimming, and your other child is introverted and likes the arts and to read, you may be setting the stage for sibling jealousy without even knowing it. It’s important, no…it’s vital that you show an interest in each of your child’s interests and hobbies, even if you don’t particularly like them yourself. No siblings come wired exactly alike; don’t beat yourself up on the fact that they may be extremely different. On the other hand, there is a way to change the tension in your house from constant bickering to at least a quieter, somewhat happier space for everyone.
Do not compare your kids’ skills or grades. For example, if you have an honor student and an average student, accept it. Praise the honor student for the grades earned, and praise the average student for getting B’s and C’s. Never say, “Why can’t you be more like your sister?” Never say, “Your brother’s room isn’t this messy.” Be there for both children. If you constantly compare them, it’s no wonder one may think you love the other child more than you love him/her. That’s pressure that your kids don’t need. It’s hard enough growing up in today’s world. When you realize your kids are different, need different things, have different ambitions, and what’s important to one may not be so important to the other, you are taking the first step to making things better for everyone involved.
Jealousy between children is normal; however, it’s the parents’ place to help the child who feels like the “victim” realize they are loved just as much as the other child. It’s also the parents’ place to help the child who feels like the “king/queen” back off a little bit. If parents don’t step in and realize what’s going on, many times these problems between siblings can carry on into adulthood and may last an entire lifetime.
Here are some things to consider in helping your children get over jealousy.
- All children need to be responsible for their own actions. If you don’t know who started it, hold both/all of your kids responsible.
- Establish rules and stick to them. One may be, if there is constant bickering all evening, they all go to their rooms an hour earlier than normal.
- Take something that’s important to your kids, such as electronics or the television. Tell them if they don’t stop bickering, they lose that privilege for the rest of the evening.
- Always point out the good things you see your children doing, even when they’re teenagers. Be sure to always have a comment, even if it’s just, “Thank you for taking out the trash without my having to ask you to do it.” Or, “Your sister did well in her game tonight, and I see you did well on your book report today at school.”
Always talk about the importance of family. For example, if you have two children, tell them that someday it may be just the two of them to look out for and support each other. Use the “family card” frequently. Some other things you can say are, “We are a family here. We look out for each other.” Remember that home is supposed to be a safe place where there is no judgement and no jealousy. It’s a safe place for every member of the family.
Make sure you start putting the brakes on when your kids start bickering all night long. Turn your house into a happy place where everybody wants to be; the meeting place when everybody is finished doing whatever they’re doing all day. Set the limits for your kids when they can’t just let it go and walk away, and keep doing that over and over. One day soon, they’ll get it.
If this issue of jealousy between your children is making you crazy and disrupting your entire household, you may want to reach out to a professional where you will be taught techniques to support open, honest relationships. Let the professionals at the Relationship Center of Orange County help you. Schedule your appointment online using our online scheduling tool, call us at (949) 220-3211, or text us.