Sibling rivalry is common but it needs to be controlled before it gets out of
hand. Jealousy between siblings is unhealthy and manifests due to misguided
parenting. Find out what parents can do to nip the green-eyed monster in the
Reshma had two beautiful daughters: 9-year-old Rhea and 7-year-old Manavi. They were both bright, intelligent and loving children. But there was one problem: Manavi was extremely jealous of Rhea. Whatever Rhea did, Manavi too wished to do, and wished to do better. If someone praised Rhea, Manavi would immediately start sulking. She competed with Rhea in everything and demanded more attention. In addition, Manavi was often extremely rude to Rhea, and the two of them were constantly bickering. Reshma was at her wit's end. Why was Manavi so jealous? Why did she want to compete with Rhea in everything? And what could Reshma do to minimize Manavi's jealousy streak?
Here are 4 sure-fire tips to manage jealousy between your children.
1. Spend enough time with the kids.
Are you spending enough time at home? If not, then the children may feel deprived of your company, and will demand your attention whenever you are around, and if you inadvertently give more attention to one child, the other child is bound to feel the pinch. However, if you spend enough time with them, it wouldn't really matter if you spend a little extra time with a particular child. They've each had their fill of you! If you are a working woman, then you may find that spending enough time with your children is not always possible. If this is the case, you could set certain rules, for example, you could make it a point to always put the children to sleep at night. In this manner, you at least spend an hour of quality time with them when you lie down with them, read to them, tell them stories and nurture them.
2. Don't compare your children with each other.
This is a guaranteed way to ignite fires of jealousy in your children's hearts. Not only should you avoid comparisons between your children, but you should also avoid comparing your kids with other kids. If Reshma tells Manavi, "Rhea got an A when she was in the Second Standard, why have you got a C on your report card?" or "Look at Rhea, she doesn't answer back like you do. Learn something from your elder sister!" Manavi is sure to develop even stronger feelings of jealousy.
3. Don't club your children together.
Rhea and Manavi, both have their unique interests and qualities. If Manavi is not as good at academic work, perhaps she is a better singer, dancer or sportsperson than Rhea is. Learn to recognize and appreciate the talents of your individual children. Don't send them both for dance classes just because it's more convenient. If one child shows a talent for dance, another child may show an affinity towards tennis. Let them choose the activities they want to get involved in to make sure there's no bickering.
4. Listen to both sides of the story.
If your children are squabbling with each other, don't form your conclusions based on what they shout out at you. First, listen to one child, and then, listen to the other. This shows them that you value both their opinions. Be just and fair. Parents tend to indulge the younger child, and expect the older child to give in to her too. "Rhea, give Manavi the toy. Come on, she's your little sister. You're older than her, you should understand." Your older child may be older than the younger one, but she too is just a child. Not only are you damaging your elder child's self-esteem, but you are also spoiling the younger child, and conditioning her to expect more from you, just because she's younger.
It is quite normal for one child to want to compete with the other. If there is a healthy sense of competition, it could work for the benefit of the child, as it pushes her to give her very best. But if taken to extremes, then jealousy can be an extremely unhealthy emotion, and can create various psychological problems that may carry on even later in life. Do your best to nip it in the bud.
Minimise Sibling Rivalry: Prepare your firstborn for the arrival of a brother or sister, and minimise sibling rivalry at the outset.
Adult Sibling Relationships: Do they withstand the test of time?