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Chic'N'Stu

Sibling rivalry - what's normal?

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Chic'N'Stu

So my three year old is being pretty nasty to my 10 month old and I'm wondering what's within normal parameters and what's cause for concern. Any and all advice is much appreciated.

Three year old will be kind and engaging sometimes and generally talks a good game, but there's still regular pushing and shoving and occasionally sitting on the poor damn baby while we're told that 3YO doesn't like them. Today the little one reached out and put a finger in older sibling's mouth because that's the current trend with dental discoveries and teething. Bub got bitten very slowly and deliberately and then older sibling grinned away happily through the crying and reiterated their dislike of this horrid little interloper.

Have tried very firm no in the moment, discussion afterwards about why it's not ok, time out every time to remove them from the situation and even a smack (not my finest moment but eh). Older sib is getting as much one-on-one quality time and attention as we can reasonably provide and I think has the right social balance outside our immediate family. Am also trying to reassure that we love them both very much and it's a great thing to have someone new to play with but it's falling on deaf ears and what I'm saying is literally not acknowledged, which is very unusual for my eldest who's otherwise very engaged in two way conversations and will pick up a thread days or weeks later after mulling it over, but this topic is always a complete dead end.

From those who've been there and done that, is there anything you'd suggest? Am I raising the next Hannibal Lecter? When to worry?

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Islander

Definitely don’t worry. Super normal in my experience. I’d also go so far as to say it probably doesn’t matter that much what your response in the moment is. The biggest thing that matters I reckon is creating time for you to have one on one play with your eldest so you’re filling her ‘attention’ cup. Babies really aren’t good play partners till they’re about two, and till then I reckon you just need to make it work as best as possible and make sure they both get time with you. 

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hmmph

I work with 3-5 year Olds and there's often some pretty big feelings which can lead to some interesting behaviours! 3 year olds are complex creatures, but it might be worth acknowledging their feelings that younger siblings can be annoying, but it's not ok to hurt. Janet Lansbury has some stuff on boundaries on behaviour that I use (though I'm often not as calm as she advocates 😂).

If they does have good language, have you had a chat about why the 3yo doesn't like the sibling? Sometimes listening to their point of view can help the feel 'validated'. Yep, babies do cry and they are noisy and they're not much fun for a 3 yo. We'll have to wait a bit for the fun stuff. But yeah, within the realms of normal for sibling behaviour.

Edited by hmmph
To remove gender pronouns. Realised you hadn't used them, and thought I'd removed mine, because I'd realised I'd made assumptions! But missed some.
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AllyK81

We have a similar age gap and there is still the odd incident of violent conduct! My children both get quite jealous of one another but it is mostly linked to time with me/sitting next to me etc.

Spending good quality one on one time with each child has really helped us. I can tell when my elder child needs his cup filled with some one on one time! When he turned 5 I took him to QLD for a week just us. I intended to do that with my younger one but 2020 ha ha ha.

On the flip side, the arguments are maybe 2% of the time now. They are as thick as thieves (they even have their own language and code words for things they know will make me cross!!) and finish each other's sentences. That is only really in the last 18 months - 2 years.

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Chic'N'Stu

Thankyou so much for the reassurance, it's been worrying me for a little while now particularly when friends with kids the same age aren't reporting the same issues.

 

And yes, I've tried getting 3YO to open up about what's behind all the dislike but they absolutely refuse to engage with the question which is highly unusual and kinda freaking me out! Having your toddler act like the Prime Minister is quite disconcerting but hopefully it's just a phase...

Thanks again to all who replied :)

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Jenflea

3 year olds don't really have the language and ability to express their emotions beyond the happy, sad, hungry terms. 

How does a 3 yr old understand and explain their feeling jealous of the new baby? They can't, so they say they don't like it. 

Because they're 3.  They aren't adults who can express this stuff. 

 

And my friends all have siblings who argue and fight and they're all older! 

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blueskies12

My older son was full on when his baby brother arrived, he would scratch  his face etc etc Sometimes I would be calm (my good moments!) and say it must be hard sharing mum and dad, yes he does cry a lot, things must be so different now and that must be hard and sometimes I wouldn't be calm! 

Now they are thick as thieves, still fight, but love each  other so much.

So if I could go back in time I would say toddlerhood, plus little baby is really hard! 

 

I think it is just time that is needed (and a whole lot of patience).

 

Plus I am realising that many mothers don't talk about this in real life....they will say, "oh my goodness little Johnny LOVES his baby sister, he brings her her little teddy when she is sad. No, he adjusted right away" LOL.

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Pip_longstockings

My kids are 9 and 11 and still have massive sibling rivalry. They have never outwardly loved each other. There are moments that they get on but on general they have little to do with each other or fight. They are just so different. 

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Zippypeaks

Very normal. I would just reiterate that it sucks being a big sibling and try to intervene before any untoward behaviour occurs.

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