What Are the Causes of Jealousy Between Siblings?

By Kathryn Hatter
Watch your child's relationship with a new child.
Watch your child's relationship with a new child.

Jealousy between siblings exists in many families. It might be impossible to eliminate sibling rivalry and jealousy altogether, but with concerted effort, you might succeed in reducing it. When you understand the causes behind jealousy between siblings, you can make changes that will help siblings come together.

New Baby

With the birth of a new baby often comes the birth of jealousy between siblings, according to Scholastic.com. An older sibling might not show signs of the green-eyed monster right away or she might begin to have some unpleasant behavioral issues soon after the new baby arrives. No matter how careful you were to prepare your older child for a new baby’s arrival, the fact that your older child now must share you with a sibling is cause for some adjustment and angst in your youngster. The child might long for the days before the baby was born and display some unpleasant characteristics of jealousy, including anger, moodiness, sadness and acting out.

Unfair Parental Treatment

If unfairness lurks in a family, children will detect it, warns the Ask Dr. Sears website. Siblings frequently keep track of parental treatment to compare who is coming out ahead and who is coming up short. If parents perpetuate this by engaging in preferential treatment of one child over another child, this mistake can lead to significant jealousy between the siblings. The shortchanged sibling will begin to add up the score and the more he comes out lacking, the more feelings of jealousy and discontent will increase.

Unhealthy Competition

Some amount of competition is natural in the sibling relationship, states psychologist Jocelyn R. Miller, with DeanCare. Siblings need to compete with each other for parental attention and material items. If this competition goes too far, it might become unhealthy and begin to erode the relationship. The siblings might turn on each other and consider each other an enemy. If siblings do not seem to have a foundational bond holding them together with love and concern for each other, jealousy and competition can develop such a stranglehold that the relationship becomes toxic.

Birth Order

The position a child has within a family can affect the amount of jealousy he feels. The oldest child usually assumes the position of leader with younger children. The next-oldest child often has a tendency to compete with the older sibling, especially if the first child has a strong personality, according to psychologist Kay Kosak Abrams. If negative competition and rivalry develops between older and younger children, jealousy might intertwine with this condition. The way parents respond with the children and their interaction can also set the stage for jealousy, especially if parents engage in preferential treatment of one child over another.

About the Author

Kathryn Hatter is a veteran home-school educator, as well as an accomplished gardener, quilter, crocheter, cook, decorator and digital graphics creator. As a regular contributor to Natural News, many of Hatter's Internet publications focus on natural health and parenting. Hatter has also had publication on home improvement websites such as Redbeacon.