Our experiences of sibling jealousy or Rivalry.
What is sibling rivalry?
“Sibling rivalry is the jealousy, competition and fighting between brothers and sisters. It is a concern for almost all parents of two or more kids. Problems often start right after the birth of the second child.”
We didn’t tell Lou she was going to be a big sister until I was noticeably pregnant. At about 6 months pregnant we broke the news and soon noticed a change in her behaviour. Until Moo’s birth in March 2015 Lou was the only grandchild on my side, she was the apple of everyone’s eye and was used to an audience of people with their undivided attention on her.
When Moo was born Lou had little interest in looking at her when we first brought her home. Lou was given ‘Big Sister’ T- shirts and cards to make her special. People would ask her “have you got a baby sister?” “Are you a big sister?” And “what’s your baby sister’s name? Lou would change the subject and talk about something entirely different. Sometimes she would say “baby” but she wouldn’t say her actual name for at least 6 months after her birth. Lou’s behaviour at home was tricky, she would rock the moses basket rigorously and attempt to tip over the bouncer chair that Moo was sitting in. I literally couldn’t take my eyes off them for a second. Lou started to get angry and throw objects so I’d have to shut myself and Moo inside another room behind a stair gate. I would need to watch carefully as Lou would try and grab Moo’s tiny leg if I walked past with her. I tried everything to include her with helping with bathing and getting Moo dressed, fetching nappies etc, and helping to give a bottle, but there was little or no interest. I was told that Lou has started to draw her family, she said “there’s mummy, there’s daddy and that’s Maisie Moo” – finally saying her name, Moo was drawn in black and myself, daddy and Amber were coloured blue. Lou was toilet trained before Moo was born but she did regress once Moo arrived, she wanted to have a nappy on and be “changed like a baby” as she said. We also would get the sitting down in the middle of the path as there was jealousy of Moo being in a pushchair and Lou was a big girl walking. Not even the addition of a buggy board would convince her!
I did wonder if Lou would get better once she realised Moo was here to stay! She would try and sit across people that were holding Moo, even though everyone was careful to ensure that Lou wasn’t left out. She would say “my mummy” if I was giving Moo a cuddle or a bottle and would launch the bottle away across the room. When Moo got to the age where she started crawling I’d have to act as a referee as Lou would try and pull her legs and flip her over. She wouldn’t have a clue that she was hurting her sister, even if Moo cried. Once Moo started walking I’d hope the situation would improve but the rough-housing seems to be more frequent. I will start a game and Lou will just randomly try and pick Moo up and wants to drop her, I’m unsure what her motive with this is as if I try and talk about her feelings on hurting Moo she will change the subject onto something completely different.
It is heart melting to see some great sibling moments and we really praise for times like these, Lou has a kindness towards Moo which I’m trying to build on more each day, she will break a biscuit in half and say “look mummy I shared!” I am also building on a special time of each day where I have quality 1:1 time with Lou, usually during Moo’s nap time, where I have been including activities for Lou’s ‘Sensory Diet’ including a lot of tactile and messy play. I am currently going through having to reassure Moo when Lou approaches her as she is afraid that she’s going to get hurt if she even goes near her as it’s happening so frequently, I don’t want Moo to be afraid of her sibling so I’m working on Lou using ‘kind hands’ all the time. We are still in the early stages of this. It is with great hope that the 2 girls will grow to have a positive sibling relationship we hope they can eventually share a room without Lou constantly waking Moo up! I’ve had people ask me if they think that Lou’s difficulties wouldn’t be so prominent if we’d decided to have Moo later than a 3 year gap, I was quiet taken aback, but I do think the longer Lou would have had with us and the family alone, then the harder she would have found it to accept Moo as a part of the family. I just think she’s a child who finds it difficult to share us.
I found that ‘The Sibling Support Project’ provides support for siblings of children with health, developmental and mental health concerns:
I also sourced some books about having a new baby in the family from our local library, which can also been bought online, such as from Amazon:
New baby book
New baby book
And a book for parents – another to add to my wish list which us ever – growing!