My 11-year-old daughter is extremely jealous of my seven-year-old son. It isn’t related to academics or sports but on a day-to-day basis, she feels he’s the beloved son and we always dote on him.
Rivalry between siblings often begins very early in the relationship. It’s a normal part of the socialisation of our children, helping them learn the life skills of negotiation, compromise and conflict resolution. However, jealousy left unchallenged by parents can fester and ferment, bubbling up at various points through the teen years and beyond. It can affect family dynamics and cause long-term rifts, so it’s wise to deal with it as early as possible.
Your daughter is four years older than your son and this means she spent a considerable amount of time as an ‘only’ child. It may be that she felt ‘pushed’ out of the close bond she had formed with you in her early years. What children most want from their parents is to feel loved, accepted for who they are and to feel they are treated fairly.
Kids are very attuned to the emotional connection that they, and their siblings, have with their parents. If she senses you are in some way over compensating, it will just make things worse. So rather than giving her ‘things’, you need to connect with her on an emotional level.
Firstly, I think it would help the situation if you spent some time with your daughter on her own. Nothing too elaborate, just good quality time. Perhaps you can arrange for your son to go to a friend’s home for a couple of hours here and there, so this can be achieved. This way you can begin to open up conversations that might allow you to get to the heart of where these feelings about her brother are coming from and also correct any misinterpretations on her part.
It’s also important that you set positive clear boundaries for your daughter. When she is displaying overtly jealous behaviour towards your son, you need to label that emotion for her and teach her how to deal with it. We wouldn’t be human if we didn’t feel jealous at certain points throughout our lives, but it’s when we don’t understand what the feeling is, and how to handle it, that jealousy can become destructive.
It could be that your daughter is feeling a little low on self-esteem and this is what’s leading her to make unfavourable comparisons between herself and her brother. Being 11, she is on the cusp of a major life transition and this is likely to throw up its own challenges. It’s therefore a good time to prepare her for those teenage years by strengthening her resilience, building her capacity for taking responsibility and teaching her how to manage complex emotions. This will all take time and patience on your part, but you will be showing her just how much you love her.
Russell Hemmings is a Dubai-based lifecoach and hypnotherapist. Got a problem? Our fantastic panel of renowned experts is available to answer all your questions related to fashion, well-being, nutrition, finance and hypnotherapy. Email your queries to firstname.lastname@example.org.