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Sibling jealousy

(20 Posts)
NanKate Mon 23-Jun-14 22:04:20

Our eldest grandson 3 years 4 months has become very jealous of his younger brother 16 months. The youngest has had a lot of problems with his skin and hospital stays so he has had a lot of attention.

Only having had one child we are not that experienced at this situation and feel so sorry for the older boy who is in trouble a lot for not wanting to play with his younger brother, share toys and has been known to hurt the little one.

His parents are trying hard to sort the situation but we think they are trying to force the older one to accommodate the younger one all the time.

Any advice gratefully accepted.

janeainsworth Mon 23-Jun-14 22:30:45

I think it's quite unrealistic to expect a child of 3y 4m to play with a child of 16 months.

Does the older one go to nursery or playgroup? At that age he would enjoy the company of children the same age.

Could you look after the little one occasionally to allow the older one some exclusive time with his parents?

durhamjen Mon 23-Jun-14 22:38:09

Children of that age do not share toys. It takes until they are five years old. They have to learn what is theirs first before they can share with someone else.

Eloethan Mon 23-Jun-14 22:47:19

I have read in child care books that it is important for children, particularly when they are fairly close together in age, to have their own time alone with their parent(s). If the younger child has a nap in the day, for instance, that might be a time devoted to playing with, the older boy - with lots of praise and cuddles. It might even help if a member of the family could babysit the younger child so that the older child could go out with his parent(s) for an hour or so and have their undivided attention, e.g. to a playground. Or when the parents are both around, each could do a separate activity with one of the children.

Although the parents mean well, I would think that to keep urging the older brother (who after all isn't yet 4 years old and probably can't really understand why his brother is getting more attention) to "be nice to" or "play with" the younger brother might be counter-productive. Young children aren't very good at sharing toys and they tend to play independently rather than with each other.

I'm no expert and this is only an opinion but I hope it is of some help. It is very upsetting, I know, to see children unhappy.

JessM Mon 23-Jun-14 22:55:24

Yes I agree. Give the 3 year old some slack and stop badgering him or it will turn into a much bigger problem. He's had a tough time playing second fiddle to not very well younger sibling. Hit the nail on the head (again) Eleothan

NanKate Tue 24-Jun-14 07:10:15

Thank you all for your sensible advice, you have said what we have thought. Yes the older one does have time away from the little one. When we stay we try and do things separately with the boys and that works well.

We will be seeing the other grandparents this weekend at a big family party and I will raise the subject with them as I believe they are thinking in a similar vein to us.

MiceElf Tue 24-Jun-14 07:24:44

Good advice here. Another thing which might help when both are together is rather than asking the big one to play with the little one - which is unrealistic - is to ask him to entertain the little one for five minutes or so and give him copious praise when he does so. Sharing toys isn't going to happen any time soon, I think it's much better to realise that his toys are his. How would we feel if we were asked to share our clothes or iPads and so on with a younger sibling grin

Soutra Tue 24-Jun-14 07:40:55

I have often thought that acquiring a baby brother or sister snd being expected to share one's toys, parents and space let alone love it must be a bit like we would feel if DH came home with another wife and said " You mustn't think I love you any less, I love you both equally and want you to be happy together and share nicely!" Add into that the fact that the new "wife" cries for attention ( and gets it ) while up till then you were the centre of DH's universe and it is amazing that younger siblings ever survive!! I know it is a necessary part of growing up but can be very painful to observe as a GP! All good advice given and it will sort itself out

Eloethan Tue 24-Jun-14 11:36:55

I hadn't thought of it like that Soutra - what a clever way of describing how it must feel when an "interloper" suddenly arrives in the family.

NanKate Tue 24-Jun-14 23:02:54

Yes Soutra very good analogy which I might use with DS and DinL.

Deedaa Tue 24-Jun-14 23:10:45

Soutra I remember seeing a comic strip in a parenting magazine when my two were little. The wife was coming home to her husband ans saying "It's such fun being married to you that I've decided to have another husband" First husband naturally goes ballistic and it illustrated the older child's feelings very well.
Does anyone remember the elderly lady who was on TV some years ago - she had been a nanny all her life and was applying her theories to modern families. She was faced with a little boy who was constantly in trouble because he was jealous of the baby. She spent a long time cuddling him and pointed out how unhappy he was because he had been pushed aside and made to feel completely unimportant until the only way he could get any attention was by hurting the baby. It was a revelation to the mother who hadn't realised what was happening.

Soutra Wed 25-Jun-14 15:50:05

I always make a point of virtually ignoring a new baby but making a fuss of the older sibling(s) taking them a small pressie and when they are otherwise engaged I get a surreptitious peek at the baby! I am influenced by a wonderful alas now dead social worker friend who made me realise what children go through when they feel supplanted. I saw it in reality when friends who perhaps should have known better came to visit DD2 and I vividly remember a 2year old DD1 standing in the corner with a face like thunder but also feeling ignored and lost. sad

Nelliemoser Wed 25-Jun-14 16:53:38

I think this is always a bigger issue for a family with a child with health issues. Parents are even more torn between managing the extra time taken up by their sick child and any other children in the family.

It isn't reasonable to try to get the older child to engage with a much younger baby. The older child really needs organised extra "Me" time with parents.

Soutra Is right about the upset sibling. I have a photo of DS at 20 mnths standing next to me a couple of days after we came home.
I was holding new baby DD and had been in hospital for two weeks after a C section with limited visiting for siblings.

I still get upset when I look at his picture, he was just so lost and sad.

annodomini Wed 25-Jun-14 17:01:59

Nellie, I always felt guilty about having to spend time with DS2 in hospital when he was 2, not seeing DS1 as often as I would have liked. It was far harder on him than on little brother who was having the big op. However, it seems that he doesn't hold it against me. In fact, they are both very kindly and affectionate sons.

rosesarered Wed 25-Jun-14 20:26:46

nellie and anno the same for me too, as one of our DD's always needed more [health] attention. I feel guilty NOW but I didn't see it then, was too busy coping myself I suppose.Had 3 children quite close together and it must have been hard on all of them.As Soutra says in her post, It's better when you visit new baby to make a fuss first of all of the older sibling.Yes, it must be worrying to be supplanted when you are tiny, especially if you were the first child.

Mishap Wed 25-Jun-14 22:16:28

The arrival of a sibling often results in the older child being expected to do more and understand more than he/she is capable of. That is the thing to avoid. There is no way this child is going to want to play with the little one and he should not be asked to. And toddlers are a menace for wrecking their older sibling's toys or games - I so feel for them.

We try and give individual time to the GC where it can be tactfully engineered. They always love this. It is hard for the parents to achieve this in the general chaos of family life.

Luckily it all passes as they get a bit older and gain some understanding.

Rowantree Thu 26-Jun-14 14:26:01

I haven't read all the advice in detail here but in skimming it, there's some excellent advice.
I can't really add much else except to say that DD2 was in and out of hospital from birth and a lot of attention was on her because of serious health problems which went on throughout DD1's and DD2's childhoods and beyond. Funnily enough, it was DD2 who was jealous rather than the other way round - she resented DD1 for being popular, having friends and no health problems or a disability. We hadn't expected it to be that way round (how stupid, I know!) - DD1 seemed to accept that DD2 needed our attention and didn't display OBVIOUS outward jealousy. However, she was a very lively and demanding little girl and very assertive! We tried to ensure that DD1 had her special time alone with DH or me - in fact, we did that with both of them. This gave them a break from each other and time with one parent. It wasn't always ideal, but it was the best we could do. In hindsight, we expected far too much of DD1 - she always seemed mature beyond her years, but having discussed with both of them how they saw their childhoods, we realise we didn't acknowledge enough that DD1 might have difficult feelings she needed to share or give vent to. It was always like walking a tightrope, getting the balance right - it probably always is, but when you have any child with special needs, that can present so many more difficulties.
It was DD2 who developed serious mental health problems, probably a part of her syndrome but we will never know for sure. Thankfully we all lived to tell the tale (only just, in her case) and DD2, though living with a serious disability, is now coping well, did well with therapy and has a beautiful baby girl of her own - to whom she is a wonderful, loving mother.
I think what I'm trying to say, in a roundabout way, is that it helps to acknowledge and air difficult feelings in siblings, but you can't protect them totally from pain and it's by learning to deal better with painful feelings, as well as the good, that emotional maturity and emotional good health is nurtured.

pattie Fri 27-Jun-14 14:41:55

Hi in our family we have the opposite the younger brother is jealous of his 17mth older brother who can do so much more than he can.
The older boy is very self contained and enjoys his own company but is always being pestered by his sibling to play and share.
Certain activities in their school are not available to the young one and he finds this hard to cope with. Any ideas would. Be welcomed.

rosequartz Fri 27-Jun-14 14:46:43

confused how old are they both?

harrigran Fri 27-Jun-14 15:17:44

GD1 is eight and still tries to get between GD2 and anyone paying her attention. She snatches toys from her hand and warns her not to touch her things. We all bent over backwards so she did not feel left out but has resulted in elder child getting 75% of the attention. Both children have solo time with parents and eldest gets time alone with us but nothing changes. I hope this is something that children grow out of.