Can your stress levels cope with another round of “I hate him and I wish he was never born!”? Eeek. Probably not. Don’t worry mama, your hair and your sanity are safe. Because I’m going to help you figure out exactly how to deal with jealousy in siblings.
When you hear one of your children fling out the bad verbal vibes, it can be tempting to switch into telling mode and make them apologise. (Let’s be honest, it can also be tempting to grab a bottle of wine and hide in the laundry!) This doesn’t solve the problem. Nor does it prevent it happening again. Instead, have a crack at stating what you see:
“It sounds like you don’t like your baby brother crawling over your
blocks when you’re playing with them. It feels like he doesn’t care you
spent ages building that tower. That must feel frustrating.”
Stating what happened and what your child feels can immediately diffuse the situation. It helps them realise what they actually feel, and has the benefit of demonstrating you understand.
OK, it’s possibly ‘Parenting 101’, but it’s also easily forgotten. Ever had the messy pleasure of dealing with siblings who always need the toilet at the same time? And fight over who was there first, while forcibly continuing to use the toilet? The shrieks of “Get OFF! I was here first!” combined with the unmistakable sound of sprinkling all over the floor is enough to get your blood pressure spiking.
But before your emotions explode in a bigger mess than the one on your bathroom floor, take a breath. Address this as a problem that needs to be solved, and let your kids take ownership in doing so. Kids love to be involved and they love to solve problems. Try this:
“It looks like you really needed to go to the toilet and couldn’t wait. But
it also looks like your sister really needed to go and couldn’t wait
either. There must be something you can do so you’re not fighting
over the toilet?”
When you highlight the perspective of both children, even as young as toddlers, they feel validated. And when you ask for their ideas, they feel important, and included in the process. All these positive feelings pave the way for constructive input and overcoming sibling rivalry. It won’t be long before they novelty of using a toilet wears off. And as you tell them for the 27th time to just go NOW before they have an accident, you’ll find yourself yearning for those toilet squabbling days.
Kids have an impressive bank of irritating statements like, “She’s looking out MY WINDOW!”. Cue: giant eye-roll. And also cranking up The Foo Fighters so you can pretend you can’t hear them. And when you have a new baby, you’ll frequently hear jealous cries for attention like “You love her more than you love me, because you’re always cuddling her.”
And oh yes, it’s exhausting just to remain upright, so steeling yourself for the latest round of seemingly petty complaints feels daunting sometimes, But often, the cause behind statements like this is a craving for connection. Try saying, “Hmmm, it seems like you’re feeling left out and you might want some quiet mama time with me. Just the two of us. Does that sound right?”
Letting your child know it’s ok to want one-on-one time with you and that you’d love to do it reminds them of the special, unbreakable bond you have together.
I know managing sibling rivalry is tough. I know it can cause tension and take you to the edge. But hopefully these tips on how to handle jealousy in siblings will get you through your next irritating round of “But maaaaaaama, she’s breathing my oxygen!”.
Take care of yourself, mama
~ Sinem xo