Firstborn jealousy is common in most households with multiple children or a mother expecting another child. Whether you’re able to handle it or not is a totally separate matter.

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Behavioural issues will always be present in children; however, it can be worse when they learn a new sibling is on the way. It’s important to understand why firstborn children may develop feelings of jealousy, heightened aggression or behavioural problems, and how to handle it.

What is Sibling Rivalry, and When does it Occur?

sibling rivalry

Sibling rivalry occurs when one child is conflicting with the other based on many different motives. Siblings may usually fight over attention, affection, materialistic reasons, as well as the feeling of dominance.

This causes children to become unsympathetic, aggressive, rebellious and creating a poor family relationship and social dynamic within the house. Some children experience more jealousy and aggression than others. Sibling rivalry can occur just as much in girls as it does with boys.

Sibling rivalry can happen between any 2 siblings, regardless of age or gender. However, multiple studies have shown that infant siblings with age difference of two to four years have more severe cases of jealousy and more likely to act out.

Children above the age of five or above are less likely to act out or have jealousy issues. It’s important to know that if your children behave like this, that you are not alone, and that it can be fixed.

As parents, it is essential for you to be able to manage, control and prevent sibling rivalry in destroying relationships in the house.

How to Stop Sibling Rivalry?

sibling rivalry

The problem with sibling rivalry is that it can manifest into more serious issues in the future. Just like behavioural issues, without properly addressing the matter and managing it at first signs, sibling rivalry can be the trigger for more serious problems for your child’s future.

Sibling rivalry is not just a matter of the older child to become jealous of their younger sibling, but it can also mean the opposite. This situation can create a strain on their relationship.

The key to ensuring your kids can live in harmony, and reduce your stress is to control, discipline, and teach them on how to grow together without unnecessary drama.

Here are three things you can do to stop sibling rivalry:

1. Teach them empathy

Encouraging your children to be more sensitive towards one another is a good place to start in terms of reducing conflict between them. Teaching your child to be sensitive to their feelings and actions will teach them to accept each other without the need to act out or oppose.

Being able to express themselves towards a sibling or another person is an important life skill that will benefit them in adulthood.

2. Do not promote favouritism

Children perceive unfairness and injustice when they notice you do not treat them or respond to them the same way as their sibling. This is the root cause of their jealous feelings.

If they notice you favouring their sibling instead of them, they will begin to resent their sibling, yourself as well as developing behavioural problems. The best way to manage this is by treating both children the same.

Whether its rewarding them or punishing them, show them that they are both equal in your eyes.

3. No Bullying or abusive behaviour

If you see one of your children victimize or abuse their sibling, it must be stopped immediately. Bullying between siblings, whether physical or verbal, can develop long term behavioural and mental health issues for both children involved.

Multiple studies show that bullying during childhood can lead to more serious mental health problems in their adulthood.

Things to Keep in Mind

sibling rivalry

Having multiple children is going to increase your workload by at least double. And that’s not including behavioural problems. You’re going to need double the time, double the energy, and double the resources. It is imperative you get help from your partner, parents, close friends, and people whom you can trust.

It’s important to make sure both your children are growing up healthy and are given the best resources to thrive. However, this does not mean neglecting your health. Always ensure you’re getting sufficient rest as well as proper dieting and physical exercise.

If you notice your own health isn’t up to scratch, it may affect your ability in raising your children. Always speak with your doctor if you’re feeling unwell or below par. When your children are still in their infancy, they need you to be at your best.

Head over to the Okadoc app to immediately book an appointment with your health practitioner.