Older Daughter Still Very Jealous of Little Sister

Updated on August 11, 2008
B.C. asks from Washington, PA
9 answers

I have a 5 yr. old daughter and 2yr. old daughter and my oldest one is still very jealous of her little sister. I never had major discipline/behavior problems with the 5yr. old until her sister came. Don't get me wrong she loves her lil' sis to death but she is so rough with her and if one of us is showing the lil' one attention, she start whining and saying we love the lil' sis more than we love her, etc. They will play together and when the lil' sis isn't around she worries about her but I think she's just wooried that she's doing something better than she's doing. I never had siblings so this is new to me. I understand that sister will do this but I don't know how to handle it.

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answers from Philadelphia on

I had three younger sisters and the second youngest acted like that when the youngest was born. She would go around saying "nobody loves me." I have two suggestions. First, try to take a few minutes each day to spend one on one with the older daughter so that she has alone time with you. Second, point out all the fun things your older daughter gets to do that the younger one cannot. Explain that she will learn to ride a bike first, go on the potty, etc. Anything you think that will make her feel special. And also help her understand that you will need her to help you teach the younger child some things. My youngest sister was 9 years younger than me and I felt empowered when I helped my mom with bottles, diapers, etc. She may not be old enough to do those things yet but she can certainly help out and when she does, make sure to tell her how much you appreciate and need her help.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Philadelphia on

Hi B. -

Is your 5 year old starting school soon? Does she have friends she sees without her little sister around? Maybe she needs some time to develop her own experiences, independent of your family. It sounds as though you are a good mom and spend quality time with her and give her attention, but your frustration is because that doesn't seem to be enough. Once she starts creating and living her own experiences through her own friends and school, she may realize that she does not want to have what her little sister has, or do the things her little sister is doing. Good luck!!



answers from Sharon on

Dont pander to her when she states that. It may cause the behaviour. Just say is that how you feel or I'm sorry you feel that way or invite her to come and play togther. Dont have a long drawn out converation.
Its importnt to spend one on one time with each child. Its also important to build the relationship between your daughters. We have a rule in our family that if we play a game it has to be something even the youngest can do. So maybe you and them can all play play dough together or a puzzle where everyone can be included.
Can you have a special chore that they do together every day? My two younger boys are rug shaker buddies. They shake my bathroom rugs out togther and they love it. My four year old always asks for his brotehr to help him shake the rugs.
Praise praise praise them for playing nicely. Eventually when you feel you can trust your daughter let them play alone with you in a nearby room or sat a bit away nad constanly interrupt their play to praise how well they are playing togther, praising the specific behviour you see.



answers from Philadelphia on

Hi, I agree with the other response. Everyday if possible make special alone time with your 5yo. even if its put the little one to bed and read just with your older daughter. Every week or every other week, take a couple hours for you and your older daughter to do something special only she can do. It doesn't have to cost anything. A playground that is to big for the 2yo., an errand that you wouldn't dream of bringing the younger one on. Remind your oldest how special it is to be the older sister, things she can do that her little sister can't, things she will have to teach her little sister as she gets older. Enlist any older sister (or brothers) that you know that she can talk to. I would tell my oldest when she was having a rough time to talk to her Aunt Debbie or Auntie Kathi because they are both big sisters and I was the little sister. Sometimes its also easier to hear the same advise from someone that is not our parents. Good luck.



answers from Philadelphia on

I don't know your exact situation, but I have a friend that has a 5 year old and 3 year old and it's the same type of thing. The older one seems to be jealous of the younger one. I actually think that maybe you could do something special with the older sibling that the younger one doesn't get to do and it would make her feel special, and maybe a bit less jealous. For example, maybe have her start dance class or gymnastics, something that sets her apart from her little sister. If that doesn't work, maybe try spending time with just your 5 year old and do something with just the two of you and have your husband watch the two year old and vice versa. She probably needs to know she's still very important and that her needs are different then her little sister. I hope that makes sense.

And I agree with the other responses that she's being fresh and back talking because she wants attention. Obviously, you need to let her know that type of behavior will not be tolerated. But going forward, maybe spending 1 on 1 time with her or pursuing something she's interested in, will help get that attention she wants and as a result she won't feel so threatend by her little sister or feel the need to get the negative attention.



answers from Erie on

It happens. And some siblings are jealous of each other for various reasons all their lives. The reality is that you can't make them drop those feelings. And you can't build the ideal relationship you want them to have. They are young, but the reality is that the relationship they eventually have will be the relationship they build or do not build. It won't be because Mom or Dad built it for them.

You can, however, have control over your relationship with each child. It sounds to me like your daughter is very clearly telling you that she feels left out of the attention circle. She's only 5, so she can't reason like an adult, but when she she says you love her sibling more, you can ask if she thinks that because of . . . whatever she just saw happen . . . . (you laughed at the little one, or read her a book or something) She'll let you know if that's right, and you can remind her that you read books with her, too, and that you laugh when she does something funny. If you have a photo album, you can also show her pictures of herself at that age, and talk about what she did, and things you used to do together. That way you are building a stack of "memories" (which she doesn't really remember yet), that she can take out. She'll be able to know that you did things with her, and that when her little sister gets big like her, you will end up doing the kinds of things you now do with her, while she will have grown up and will be able to do better things, and there will be so much more you can do together, because she will be getting older and bigger and more capable. And always, be ready with a hug and an I love you. She may just need reassurance. And if she gets the reassurance she needs, in a positive way, the negative behavior will recede.

On the other hand, 2 year olds have a great ability to move around and get into their older siblings toys and stuff. So they WILL DEFINATELY butt heads over that. That isn't a jealousy issue, that's territorial. And you may need to talk with the bigger sister to find out what toys are special and are to be reserved away from the younger one. They could go on a higher shelf, or in a special place where the little one can't destroy them. The other toys that she's willing to share could be in a "public" place. Then she has to learn that when she takes a toy that isn't hers, the 2 yr old has the right to ask for it back. It goes both ways.

The thing to remember, too, is that the older one will be going to school soon and broadening her social circle, and you will be able to share school pictures and homework and all kinds of things the little one doesn't do yet. So there will some very special days ahead for you and her, and those may make a big impression on her. It may make life easier, and it may not. But it will certainly give you times when you can praise her, welcome her home from school, and make her feel very very special.

Parenting is a big challenge. You just want so much for your kids to grow up happy and to love and befriend each other. Our younger 2 are great at that. Our older two (adults now) still have issues with each other, due largely to the manipulative behavior and periodic partiality shown to them by my ex and his family. It made life very hard and increased the jealousies. This past week the younger one called to tell me they'd had a big fight over the phone, and she and I talked. I was burdened for them all night, and I considered callig, but didn't. I considered e-mailing, but didn't. I had to sit on my hands and heart to stay out of it. And I got a call the next day that said, "We talked again, and we cried and we patched it up. Everything is okay now." If I had gotten involved, it probably would still be a mess, but they are working through their issues and they care about each other enough not to let the other go, even when they are angry. .. . . It takes time. . . . and maturity . . . . but don't jump ahead and worry about what happens 20 years from now. Listen to the needs the kids express to you, and try to meet those needs on the 5 or the 2 yr old level they are at today. Meet the needs as appropriately as you can, and keep growing with them. There will be times when they are happy and times when they are grouchy, but what you are building are relationships that will say, "You belong to me when you are happy and when you are sad" and you belong to each other then, too. It'll all work out .. . .but you have to wait 20 years sometimes to see it !! :-)



answers from Philadelphia on

Hi B. -

I believe you sent in another request about your older daughter being mouthy. I think you have answered why she is behaving the way she is....she wants attention. Any attention is good in her mind...even if she is getting in trouble. I have gone through the same thing with my boys (ages 2 and 5). You should discipline and make your child aware that being fresh will not be tolerated. Be sure t o follow through and do the same thing with your younger child when needed. Trust me - you older child will know if there is a double-standard (she gets in trouble when she messes up the room...but not her sister). Be consistent...but ease of the yelling (do that only when necessary). If you yell all the time...the kids will tune you out and not respect anything you say. I've sat down with my older son and explained that he words are hurtful and make me sad..and that I know he doesn't want to hurt me. I agree with another woman who responded to your initial request...give choices. Clearly layout what they are and what consequence (if any) they will bring. My sister (special ed teacher...led a special ed school) said giving choices is the key...the kids feel empowered...but within limits. And they also learn through their mistakes.

Wish ya the best!! You are not alone with this problem.


answers from Williamsport on

I would step up the positives and negatives drastically and give it some time.
Shower your older daughter with love all the time. Greet her every time she comes into a room with a smile and show her you are excited to see her. Celebrate seeing her every morning and after every nap. Say nice, sincere things about her and give her compliments. Spend extra time with her, and do nice things with her. Tell her how important she is and how big and mature. Give her extra privileges and point out it's because she's older. Tell her she loves her little sister and her sister loves her and you need her to help you with her little sister because she (the 5 year old) is so important. Give her certain responsibilities she can help with with to take care of the baby, helping with baths, diapers etc. Praise her profusely for being nice.
Conversely, the minute starts any sort of negative attitude, whining, saying jealous things, or being "not nice" with her sister in any way shape or form, immediately come down harshly. No warnings. Drop everything, give a quick reprimand and take her to her room or wherever, take away a toy, or some other punishment. I'd give her a good sting to the butt every time, but she's a bit too old for that at 5-especially if she's claiming it doesn't hurt. Do something drastic. Do it immediately and consistently. NEVER lose your cool or yell. Handle it way before it gets to that EVERY time. The message must be calm, cool and drastic resulting from HER ACTIONS, not form your being out of control or frustrated. She will give up. The same advice goes for her mouthing off from your other post. Don't allow it. be consistent.
The clear message is that she feels good when she is good, and she gets punished when she isn't.
It will be hard work because it has gone on so long. 5 years old is really late to be setting boundaries, but that's what it will take! Good luck!
Everyone says this is normal, but only if it is tolerated. Some people even buy into the the feeling sorry for the older sibling for having to share the spotlight thing. It does not need to happen, with the right guidance, siblings loving each other is normal. You can do it!



answers from Philadelphia on

Hi B.,

You got some good, and consistent, suggestions about how to handle your daughter's jealousy. Since you did not have siblings, you are at a bit of a disadvantage. My niece is going through the same thing. She was an only child and now has two girls.

I will suggest the same book to you that I gave to my niece: Siblings Without Rivalry.

When my children were young (they are now 16 and 13) I found this book to be very helpful.

Good luck, and hang in there!