Some advice, please… My children love each other. They really do. The first time they met it was magic. They play together well considering their four-year age difference and are affectionate with each other. Sunboy was thrilled the first time that Flowergirl said that she loved him. Of course, these are not reasons why I need advice.
It was bound to happen. Hints of jealousy have begun to emerge. Just now. I feel like if I handle jealousy issues well when they first emerge, it will go a long way. A proper setting of tone, perhaps. It may be delusional thinking on my behalf. Are siblings inherently competitive with one another? Is there little that I can do to set a good precedent?
As an only child, I can’t relate to what they’re experiencing. I can only guess what it would be like to be a young child and feel like I have to share my parents with someone else. I imagine the experience is different for Sunboy who had me to himself for four years than it is for Flowergirl who has always had a brother.
The worst example of the sibling rivalry occurred this week. By comparison to what many probably experience it wasn’t that bad but it felt like a foreshadowing of future days. I was giving the kids asthma medicine before bed. First Flowergirl had hers. She began compliantly but soon fought the idea of medicine or even sitting with me. Mama persevered and then it was Sunboy’s turn. Flowergirl protested the switch in positions, saying “No way!”. She turned, nestled her head into her chubby toddler arms and cried. Tears streamed down her face, all because I was giving her brother medicine. Medicine that she didn’t want herself a few minutes prior. I asked her if she wanted to be where Sunboy was sitting. She nodded yes through the tears.
Earlier that day, Sunboy sat in my lap to read a book which prompted Flowergirl to crawl into my lap also. This led to them vacillating between mildly elbowing the other out of my lap and hugging each other in affection. It got to the point where I couldn’t see the book to read it.
I realize that these are both minor incidences, but I’m at a bit of a loss for how best to handle it.
I’ve told them both that the each of them has a place in my heart – one for Sunboy and one for Flowergirl – and that nothing or no one can take their special spot. I’ve talked about family and how a bigger family means more people to love. I’ve told Sunboy that he and Flowergirl will be friends for their entire lives.
Flowergirl’s age (21 months) may be part of the issue at this point. I can’t explain things to her the same way I can explain them to Sunboy, who is six. Then again, what do logical explanations do to mend a feeling in one’s heart?
So, I turn to you brilliant people. What, if anything, helps lessen feelings of sibling rivalry? What is your experience with sibling rivalry as either a sibling or as a parent of siblings? Is there anything that it helps to hear, any books to recommend, anything that I, as a parent, can do to make this easier for my children? Comments are appreciated. I feel out of my element on this one. Thanks.