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Subtle/subconscious sibling jealousy

(8 Posts)
CarmenSanDiego Tue 23-Jun-09 07:16:54


I wonder if anyone has any tips on this...

DS has just turned 6 months. I also have two DDs, 8 and 5. The 8 year old is great - she's dealt fine with the baby, but DD2 has understandably had more mixed feelings - she's been the baby for a long time.

While she's apparently very kind to the baby and says that she loves her baby brother and tries to play with him, there are odd little things that come out in play. Like when we were in the swimming pool tonight, she said, 'DS is the evil fishie! Get him!' and squirted him with her toy. Somehow, DS is always the 'baddie' and she frequently calls him 'naughty' (personally, I try and avoid ever using this word to refer to anyone, but she's picked it up from books, schoolfriends etc.)

When he was born, she was very put out, though we tried to give her presents from the baby etc. She was very withdrawn for a week or so initially but rejoined things and now seems to play with him and kiss him. But there's just an underlying jealousy that's very hard to deal with because she doesn't articulate it openly.

I also try very hard not to blame him for things (oh, Mummy can't play now because she's feeding baby etc.) but this requires some very careful phrasing sometimes!

So, any tips if you've dealt with this or a similar age gap? Is it good to encourage her to speak up about her worries?

blinder Wed 24-Jun-09 00:27:32

Not qualified in this area particularly but from my child development training I believe this is 100% normal. Your instinct to talk to her about her worries feels like a good idea to me. Maybe getting it off her chest will help her to let it go.

My guess is that the less you worry about it the sooner it will pass. Do supervise the play though!

Hope you get some more experienced responses!

CarmenSanDiego Wed 24-Jun-09 02:13:11

Thank you blinder, good advice! She's definitely improved but there's a way to go. Agree on supervising the play! I've caught her giving him 'hugs' that turn into strangling and poking! shock

screamingabdab Wed 24-Jun-09 03:42:28

Someone is up ! (It's hot here in London, and DS2 woke up - now I can't get back to sleep ....)

This strikes me as very normal. My DS1 was much more overt in his resentment of DS2 ("Mummy, can you go out so I can hit Charlie ..."), but then he was only 2 and a half !

At 5, your DD2 knows what the "right" way to behave towards her sibling is, but as you say, of course at times she will have normal sibling resentments. The thing is, she needs to be allowed to know that feelings are OK, but it's what you do about them that can be the problem.

I'd maybe try and approach it in the first instance a bit obliquely, for example, by reading a picture book about siblings with her. Then maybe take it from there. Try and have a conversation in a non-confrontational way eg when you are doing something else together. Let her know it's OK to find the baby a pain at times (presumably, the baby IS a pain at times !). As blinder says, supervise ! And try not to worry. Despite the fact that DS1 used to whack DS2 regularly,they are now really close. wink

screamingabdab Wed 24-Jun-09 04:00:48

Sorry, me again! Thinking about it, I am wondering if part of the reason DD has more of a problem is her age. At 5, she is out in the world more for the first time, having lots of new social and other experiences at school. This can be a struggle, and maybe she is taking her feelings out a bit on the baby ( a bit like "kicking the cat")

Also, I know that when DS1 was 5, he found it hard to be away from me, knowing I was home with his brother.

Completely not fair on the baby, though.

All you can do about this, is what you are doing. : being supportive of her, and giving her some time alone with you.

CarmenSanDiego Wed 24-Jun-09 04:57:42

LOL at 'Can you go out so I can hit Charlie!'

Thanks Abdab (great name!) I think there's a lot of truth in that - baby came along during the Christmas holidays and she was reluctant about going back to school afterwards, wanting to stay with me. Not helped that she changed to this school in September and has had problems there. (Changing schools again this September to one closer to her previous school).

I really like the idea of reading a story with her. I'll have to investigate for a good book about siblings. She does like 'Captain Pike takes care of baby' though!

Funnily enough, I think she was annoyed that DS didn't fit her idea of babies (dolls!). She expected him to say 'googoo gaga' immediately and thought she'd be able to give him a bottle and so on but that has passed and now he's started crawling, I think she'll hopefully start to find him a bit more 'fun'.

screamingabdab Wed 24-Jun-09 07:57:25

I know ! You could never accuse DS1 of being underhand, lol.

He also once said "I'm not a big boy, Charlie's a big boy. I'm a baby", leaving us in no doubt that he felt usurped

I don't know the book you mention, but assuming Captain Pike is a pirate, I imagine he does unspeakable things to the baby like making it walk the plank grin

Envy of you in California, BTW. We had a great family holiday a couple of years ago - hired a RV and drove up the coast from Santa Barbara to San Francisco. Beautiful. I 'd like to go back and see more of the States.

CarmenSanDiego Wed 24-Jun-09 10:12:35

Aaah, yes. We had a bit of 'wah! wah! I'm a baby!' behaviour too. Poor little things. Suddenly not being the baby must really rock their world for a little while.

Captain Pike is a classic. Mrs Pike decides that she's having a day off so dad gets the baby and takes her to sea. Unfortunately, he doesn't have Mumsnet (no Wifi on the high seas, I expect). But fortunately, Captain Whitebeard who has ten children shows him how it's done.

Expect DD2 would have been happier with your version of events though

I must say, I feel very lucky to be in CA. Although they didn't warn me about the 'June gloom' - we've had quite a bit of fog the last few weeks. Interspersed with lovely sunny sunshine!

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