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Sibling Rivalry: Reducing Conflict and Jealousy

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Often an older child will feel jealous when you have a new baby. It may take a few months before a child shows signs of these feelings. But after some time, your child will realize that the baby is there to stay. That's when you may start to see strong emotions and behavior problems. This is called sibling rivalry.

Sibling rivalry happens between older children too. Children have a strong need for attention. And they need positive feedback from their parents. Conflict often happens because children feel they are competing with their siblings for this attention.

How can you help children manage conflict and jealousy?

Preparing for a new baby

An older child can have lots of feelings and reactions to the idea—and the reality—of a new baby.

Here are ways to prepare older children for your family's new addition.

Adjusting when your baby comes home

When a new baby arrives, it's common for older children to go back to thumb-sucking or no longer want to potty train. Why? They're trying to get back some of the attention you're giving the new baby.

Here are some ideas to help older children feel loved and important.

Handling conflict as children grow

Sibling conflict isn't pleasant, but it is common. Conflict often happens because children feel that they have to compete with their siblings for a parent's attention and feedback. Or it may happen simply because they have very different needs and personalities.

Sibling conflict isn't all bad. When handled well, it can help kids learn how to manage their emotions, understand different viewpoints, and work with others to solve problems.

That's where you come in. These ideas can help end the struggle and bring peace to your household.

Credits for Sibling Rivalry: Reducing Conflict and Jealousy

Current as of: March 1, 2023

Author: Healthwise Staff
Medical Review:
Susan C. Kim MD - Pediatrics
Kathleen Romito MD - Family Medicine
Louis Pellegrino MD - Developmental Pediatrics

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