Jealousy and sibling rivalry
Jealousy between brothers and sisters is normal. It is called sibling rivalry. Jealousy can start when there is a new baby in the family. It may last until children are in their teens.
A child who feels jealous will often:
- Try to get attention.
- Want to be held or carried.
- Get into trouble on purpose.
- Not do what she/he is asked to do.
- Act like baby. She may suck her thumb, wet her pants, want to wear diapers, or want to drink from a bottle.
- Try to hit the baby.
- Become quiet.
- Not want to have anything to do with the parents.
- Become upset or afraid.
What to do if your child feels jealous
When you are pregnant:
- Tell the child there will be a new baby in the family.
- Tell the child what the baby will be like.
- Visit others with new babies.
- Move the child to her new room or bed (if this is needed) a few months before the baby arrives.
- Answer the child's questions about where the baby is. Let her feel and listen to mommy's tummy.
- Make the child feel grown-up. Tell her what she can do because she's older - sleep in a big bed, go to bed later, and help mommy.
- Tell her stories about when she was little.
- Let her look at her baby pictures.
- Let her help you get ready for the baby.
- Do not start toilet learning when the child is jealous.
A few days before the baby is expected:
- Tell your child that you will be going to the hospital to have the baby. Show the child where the hospital is.
- Tell your child who will look after her when you are in the hospital. Make sure she knows the babysitter.
- Warn the child that you may have to go to the hospital when she is not around or sleeping.
While you are in the hospital:
- Get someone to bring your child to visit you, if possible, or phone your child.
- Give your child extra attention before she meets the new baby.
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Once you and the new baby are home:
- Give your child extra attention while someone else looks after the baby.
- Let your child look at and touch the baby when she is ready.
- Don't force your baby on the older child.
- Never leave your child and baby alone together. The older child may accidently hurt the baby.
- Never let your child pick the baby up without your help.
- Make sure the baby doesn't get all the attention from visitors. Your child will feel more important if you tell others what a "big help" she is.
- Let your child help you care for the baby. She can get diapers, clothes, and toys.
- Let your child act like a baby if she wants to.
- Do things with your older child while the baby is sleeping.
Fighting between older children
Some fighting and arguing between children is normal.
To help children get along:
- Remember that each child is different - do not try to treat all children the same.
- Let children try to work things out by themselves.
- Do not take sides, blame, or try to find out "who started it".
- Tell your children that you want them to stop arguing. Suggest ways they can end the argument.
- Break up the fight if someone is going to get hurt.
- Do not compare children. For example, saying "I wish you would clean up your room like your brother" will lead to bad feelings.
A few good things about sibling rivalry
It helps children:
- Learn how to handle disagreements.
- Learn how to talk things out instead of fighting.
- Learn ways to handle anger and frustration.
- Learn how others feel.
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For more information:
Region of Peel - Public Health
Monday to Friday 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.
to speak with a Public Health Nurse
Caledon residents call free of charge at 905-584-2216