Sibling Rivalry


(Photo credits: Hipstermom. DD#1 walking the streets of Jerusalem with her Uncle)

Passover is finally behind us, which means so is DH’s Monsoon Wedding of a birthday, my brother’s brief trip from the States to meet his niece and hang out, and 8 days of eating Matzah. Blech.

What that also means is that the diet started today, after a “final supper” with DH at Gabriel’s in town. That place is amazing, and I’m still tasting on my tongue the delicious glass of Carmel Winery’s Merlot.

With routines getting back to normal, I’ve had some time to reflect on the holiday and especially having both of my girls home for more than a week. And, I’ve realized, that there is some serious sibling rivalry going on and I’m not really sure the right way to handle it.

In a nutshell: Whatever DD#1 has in her hand, DD#2 wants. To the point where she will just pull it out of her older sisters hands. That causes an unbelievable amount of frustration on the part of DD#1 and she ends up screaming at her sister, screaming at us, and yelling a lot. We tried to distract the little one with similar toys, and to help her play together and not necessarily play by taking away all of her older sisters’ toys, but it didn’t help. We know DD#2 understands the word “no,” but that just doesn’t stop her. And, while we eventually encourage the older one to either play in her room with the door closed, or to move to a higher table like the kitchen or dining room, it’s really not fair to her that she has to be the one to move away when all she wants to do is play.

And it’s with everything! If DD#2 is sitting in my lap, DD#1 wants to come in for a cuddle. Now, I’m a big Mama and got plenty of lap space for the two of them, but they both don’t really like to share the lap. When I’m on the floor playing with DD#2, to distract her from taking the toys of DD#1, my eldest abandons her toys and comes to play with me too. I laugh and tell her that it defeats the purpose of me distracting the baby if she no longer wants to play with the toys, but that just doesn’t resonate with her. She just sees Mommy playing with one child, and she wants to play too.

And I have no IDEA why the baby likes to frustrate her older sister by pulling out her pacifier. We are slowly weening our eldest off of her pacifier. We have her day weened in that she cannot leave the house in public with the pacifier, although on long car trips we give in. She pretty much only gets the pacifier when she is watching TV or when she is going to bed. Our goal is to get her completely night trained and then we’ll work on giving up her pacifier. But, since the girls were home on vacation, I let her use it more that usual and she likes to sit on her little couch with the pacifier and watch TV. And sure enough, the little one crawled right up to her and would just pull the pacifier out of her mouth! She didn’t want to put it into her own mouth since she had hers in there, she just liked yanking it out and getting a rise out of her sister. It got to the point where I literally had to keep a hand over DD#1’s pacifier/mouth and tell the baby “no” each time she tried to pry my hand loose.

Aside from the sibling rivalry though, we had a really enjoyable vacation together. I was so relaxed and enjoyed our practically non-existent schedule. If DD#1 wanted to stay in PJ’s until 11:00 a.m., and color on her little table or play in the living room, I gladly let her. We went on walks to the Supermarket and the park, and I let the eldest blow bubbles during our trek. We went to the museum and to parks in other neighborhoods where the girls could go on swings, and we actually took BOTH girls out to dinner at Moshava 54. It was a great experience, they were both behaved and ate nicely. It was the first time since DD#2’s birth, where we were able to go out to eat as a family. That was just so exciting, to know that they are both at an age where we can dine out and I don’t have to whip out the cape to breastfeed while trying to eat my appetizer with one hand, and cut up DD#1’s chicken with the other.

And the best part of all? When my eldest child pulled her little sister in for a cuddle, and they hugged.

How do you handle sibling rivalry at such a young age? All advice and anecdotes welcome in the comment section!!


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3 Responses to Sibling Rivalry

  1. Melissa Kessler says:

    Little one does that to big one here too. I usually try to encourage big one to sit at a table so lil one can’t get her stuff. To avoid physical striking out I have a rule that if big one says “mommy, move him!” I do. I try my best to make it so that big ones space is respected. It’s hard though! Sometimes I put lil one in the exersaucer for a few minutes. I think it will actually get both better AND worse as they get older 🙂

  2. mamamia says:

    I have no experience with this yet (just expecting baby no. 2) but what other moms told me is that it’s important to start early to play with them together – rather than trying to avoid any confrontation by separating them. This way they’ll actually learn how to interact with one another. It makes sense, both the older and younger have to learn that, as they are not used to it. In gan it’s a complete different setting and it requires other social skills to interact with kids the same age than with a baby sister.

    I totally believe that you can expect a certain understanding and letting go from the older sibling (after explaining of course and within boundaries). I DON’T mean that the older should always give in, but definitely can be expected to share toys as they will return to her quickly anyways. Maybe it would help to set up a certain system of shared toys and big girl toys only, so the older one knows that which ones are hers alone (and she can decide if she wants to share, if it’s safe and age appr.) and the shared ones, well she has to share. Of course they don’t need to always play together and sometimes it’s very important to give each of the sibling time apart, but it will be worth the effort if they learn to play together early on, so you won’t need to entertain them as much. You can make up games where DD#1 is in charge of entertaining the baby… of course she’ll need to learn how to do this so it’s safe for the baby. She could bring stuff to the baby, or try to make her laugh by playing music or dancing for the baby or acting something out with doll/stuffed animals, play ball together. Get creative, show her what she can do with the baby and that it can be fun for both of them.

    Maybe if you explain to DD#1 that the baby wants all her toys because they look much more interesting and fascinating to the baby than her own toys will help her understand and not feel so worked up about it.

    • holylandhipstermom says:

      I love the idea that DD#1 should make up games to entertain her little sister, and I think she will like that too. She is at the age where she feels pride every time she helps, whether it be telling us that her baby sister needs a diaper change or when she puts a plate into the sink. Thanks so much for your comment!

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