Jealousy among Siblings: Symptoms and How to Act

The jealousy between  Siblings can be defined as a state of frustration felt by children when they perceive that they are no longer emotionally reciprocated by  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 brother, especially when he is between 2-5 years old.

  • Perception of ineffectiveness compared to his brothers.

  • Asymmetric attention of the parents towards the children.

On other occasions, the causes of children to be jealous are not “real”, but are imaginary, as when perceiving that the other brother receives  more attention or has better toys, when it is not true.

Jealousy Among Siblings

In any case, even when jealousy is not provoked by the parents, the way in which they face the situation is decisive in  reducing them.

Jealousy among Siblings

Symptoms of jealousy between siblings

Detecting the background that causes jealousy among your children will help you act on them and prevent them from occurring, reducing emotional and behavioral problems  .

With regard to the most common manifestations of child jealousy, we can find the following:

  • They begin to behave like a smaller child. Frequently, before the arrival of a new sibling, the child acquires behaviors that had already been abandoned, such as peeing in bed, talking like  a small child or sitting on the lap of the parents.

  • Alterations in food. Children can also manifest their emotional difficulties through food, by refusing to eat, for example.

  • They show aggressive behaviors. Sometimes they behave aggressively with the same person who causes jealousy, like his little brother – he hits her, pulls her 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 derived from jealousy, such as low self-esteem or feeling of personal inefficiency. This can also be 
    detected through unjustified mood swings and drawings in which they show perceived inequality.

As you can see, childhood jealousy has serious consequences for the child’s proper development, negatively affecting several areas of his  life.

Surely you have ever felt frustration with the jealousy of your children, since, in your opinion, you show an equal attitude to all of them.

Tips to treat jealousy between brothers

1. Give him more love from the moment he finds out that he is going to have a brother

From the moment you tell him that the family is going to grow up, your first-born son will need you to show especially loving, not to be  sidelined in family conversations or to talk about the future baby too much when he is present.

Involving him in the preparations will help him get involved and feel excited about the arrival 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 him know the days he will spend outside the home a few days  in advance -while you are in the hospital-, with whom he will stay -with grandparents, uncles, etc. .- and what will happen when the baby is born.

Let him see the benefits of having a little brother, like he will be able to play with him, he will not feel alone, etc.

Once you have had the baby, after returning home, it is important that you show yourself especially sensitive and show your child attention – not just with the  baby.

It is a moment in which the first-born knows that the family situation has changed and needs the support of his father and mother to face the  situation.

Therefore, you should be very happy to have returned home and that you can all be together.

Let him see, too, that you will continue to pay close attention, even though there is now a new member in the family.

For this method to be even more effective, it warns the visitors that they must pay attention to the firstborn, in the same way that they used to do it before  the arrival of their brother.

2. Teach your firstborn photos of when he was a baby

Show him pictures of when he was little will help you explain how happy you were in the first moments of his upbringing.

Make him see how excited you were before his arrival, the names you had thought to put him and some anecdotes from when he started talking or  walking.

This is essential so that your child understands that he also received the care and attention that from now on you will begin to have with the new  baby.

3. Prevents the firstborn from undergoing great changes

Whenever possible, avoid that your child perceives great changes after the birth of the baby, such as having to change rooms, spend  less time with their parents, drop out of extracurricular activities, etc.

Nor is it time to try to leave the diaper or pacifier, since during this stage of instability and changes will not be as willing to make  new changes 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 be attributed to the arrival of the new family member, so that existing jealousy can  develop or increase.

4. Grant new responsibilities to your firstborn

So that your son can acquire the role of elder brother, once the baby is born, you should share in his care and attention.


For example, ask him to let you know if he cries, that he is clothed or that he plays with him while he is awake.

Reinforce these behaviors by telling her how well she is behaving or by buying a prize from time to time – a new toy, her favorite dessert,  etc. -.

In addition, you must make her see the advantages of becoming an older child, so that she avoids behaving like a smaller child, as we mentioned  earlier, through behaviors she had already abandoned-peeing in bed, refusing certain foods, among others.

5. Divide the care and attention to both children

A good method of providing the same attention to your children is that your partner and you divide the care tasks to both children.

For example, while the mother is feeding the baby, the father can shower the firstborn child or play with him.

At another time, the father can bathe the baby while the mother tells a story to the firstborn.

In this way, the activities and care of personal hygiene are alternated, so that the minors do not have a feeling of “abandonment” on the part of one of  the parents.

6. Show empathic with your children

If you perceive a disruptive behavior in your child or isolation behaviors – due to childish jealousy – try to approach him or her by encouraging them to talk about their own feelings, instead of scolding him or her  .

Let him see that he is in a safe space where he can let off steam, show his feelings openly and that you will listen to him whenever he  needs to.

Do not tell him at any time that there is no reason to feel jealous, but try to change the situation by offering alternatives.

In this way, facing the emotions he experiences-instead of suppressing or denying them-he will be able to overcome his childhood jealousy.

To show a more empathetic attitude, you can start the sentence by saying: “You are right, lately we have been paying more attention to your  brother / sister, from now on, we are going to change this attitude”.

You can also propose to tell you openly when you need to pay attention or that you show more affectionate.

7. Avoid comparisons between your children

From the moment the family grows, you should avoid comparisons of the type: “your brother cries less”, “he or she behaves better”, etc.

Even some seemingly harmless comments, such as labeling one of them as more timid, can hurt him when socializing – since  he assumes that he is a person who finds it difficult to make friends.

If you want to make some reference to how well one of them has behaved, try to focus on the specific moment in which it happened, 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 like “you are  very disobedient” or “your brother is more obedient than you”.

If both of you are in school and receive school grades, you should be especially cautious about comparisons in terms of academic performance.

This is usually another great reason why one of the brothers develops jealousy towards the other.

Therefore, try to be happy with the academic results of both and other members of the family.

Highlight your strengths instead of focusing your attention on the negative notes-in which you could help by having them assist a support teacher  or helping you yourself.

8. Boost your children’s self-esteem

Self- esteem is the appreciation we have of ourselves and the confidence we have in our abilities.

It is formed through time based on our experience, 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 life, so you should help them  develop this quality.

If your children grow up with sufficient self-confidence and do not have serious self-esteem problems, they will have better development in other areas, such as  educational, social or emotional.

To boost their self-esteem, let them see that they have enough affection from their parents-so that they develop a secure attachment-and that they have  many positive qualities and qualities.

Teach them that, even if they fail in some area, with effort they can improve and get what they propose -for example, in the face of a bad grade, it  shows that they can recover with the right effort-.

If your children have adequate self-esteem, you will see how the jealousy between siblings progressively decreases.

9. Increase the time spent on family leisure activities

If you dedicate enough time to have fun and do family activities, you can strengthen the emotional ties.

For example, if you travel as a family, you can appreciate how your children spend more time playing together, since they can not be with their usual friends.

Therefore, you should start to increase family breaks, day trips and doing activities that are attractive for children,  so that the family climate is more positive and jealousy between siblings is reduced.

In addition, you will be instilling healthy habits for your children and they will be growing in an enriching environment.

10. Consultation with a specialist if the symptoms worsen

Although in most cases this jealousy remits over time -or thanks to some changes that parents carry out-, at other times it  becomes pathological, causing serious damage to the normal development of the child who suffers, and interfering negatively in 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.

Also Read:Development of manual dominance

The specialist can tell you if it is a simple case of child jealousy or there are other reasons why your child’s behavior is  inappropriate.

These are our tips so that you manage to eliminate or reduce jealousy among your children.

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