How to Deal With Sibling Jealousy
Have you heard of “Past-Life Regression?”
That’s when your child who has passed all of the appropriate milestones for his or her age suddenly reverts back to child-like behaviour that leaves you not only nonplussed but frustrated as well.
Past life regression in children often presents itself when one of the following incidents occurs:
- A new sibling or siblings enter the family
- A younger sibling requires more “hands-on” or special attention than the older child
- An older child feels particularly vulnerable or sensitive because of a particular life stage or event
Past life regression is part and parcel of being a parent of more than one child. If your children are twins or multiples, then it’s unlikely that you’ll experience this unless you have older children – who all of a sudden have to deal with not one younger sibling who is taking up so much of mom and dad’s time, but two or three. I speak from experience.
During the best of times, children vie for the attention of their parents. Whether it’s at the dinner table, at the supermarket or in the playground, kids want to be the “one and only” in their parents’ eyes. This is virtually impossible when there is more than one child to love and only one or two parents to go around. Therein lies the problem.
This situation is particularly compounded when there is a younger sibling or siblings that require more “hands-on” care. Although it may be evident to the adult present that the younger child needs to be tended to in a much more focused manner than the older sibling, try explaining that to the child who just sees mom or dad “paying more attention” to their younger brother or sister.
Past-Life Regression occurs when the older child starts to take on some of the traits of earlier childhood in order to be heard. These traits may include whining, crying, talking in a “baby voice,” acting out in public, temper tantrums or more. It’s fun for neither the parents nor the kids in this scenario. Everyone loses.
While past life regression in this instance may be trying at best, there are some strategies that parents can employ to make the situation more tolerable:
- Speak and Listen – Your older child feels that their bond with you is threatened by their younger sibling(s). As with any situation people just want to be heard and understood, and kids are no different. Don’t dismiss your child’s fear and anxiety about the attention that their younger brother or sister is receiving. Actively listen to their concerns, let them talk out their feelings and worries, then respond back to them what you’ve heard. Let them know as well that their feelings are valid. Once you’ve done so, explain although there is the need for more hands-on care for your younger kids, it doesn’t change or affect your feelings for your older child.
- Set Expectations – Like any situation involving your children, lay out the ground rules immediately. Children need to know what is and isn’t considered appropriate behaviour. Yes, they may be “regressing” via tantrums, whining and talking in a “baby voice,” but it doesn’t mean that yo have to put up with it. As a matter of fact, pointing out the inappropriate behaviour and putting a stop to it as soon as it occurs is crucial in ultimately resolving the overall situation.
- Carve Out One-On-One Time – Your older child was once your “baby” and wants to remain special in your eyes. That’s why it’s even more important to put aside special time for each of your children where you can focus on them and them alone. This is particularly the case with the oldest who may be feeling somewhat displaced. Show them that you still care as much as you always did by spending this quality alone time with them, and you’ll see a lot less jealousy-fuelled antics, guaranteed.
- Show Extra Love – Children have a visceral response to attention so when it’s not headed in their direction, they notice. If your older child is feeling out of sorts by your needed care of your younger child or children, make it up to them by giving them some extra TLC. Bear hugs, cuddles and a few “I love you’s” go a lot further than you think.
- Let Them Help – Having the older child help with entertaining, interacting with and caring for the younger sibling will be a benefit to both kids. The older child will bond with their brother and sister and will feel less threatened when they better understand the younger child’s needs; the younger child will get to know their older sibling in a different way and will . Mom and Dad will have less tension, jealousy and past life regression incidents. Everybody wins.
Do you have any tips or strategies that work when dealing with “Past Life Regression” or general sibling rivalry? Please answer in the comments below!
Not exactly “Past Life Regression,” but definitely some sibling rivalry happening here:
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