How to Deal With Sibling Jealousy
When you were little, sibling rivalry probably amounted to nothing more than stealing each other’s clothes and Barbies. Today, those frivolous fights might have fizzled out — or perhaps they’ve become more inflamed into serious competition. Either way, feeling at least a little jealous of our closest family is totally normal. Whether the oldest, middle, or baby, all kids are susceptible to catching the green-eyed monster at one point or another. But before you start pointing fingers at each other, parenting expert and author Dr. Vanessa Lapointe has an alternative explanation.
“[Sibling] jealousy will be about key themes that have to do with how we attach or connect to our primary caregivers, even if the parent isn’t around or the siblings are all grown up,” Dr. Lapointe explains. There ya have it, kids: Because of the way our parents shape sibling relationships, the way they treat us growing up has a huge impact on potential sibling jealousy later on. But where do parents go wrong?
Dr. Lapointe shares that sibling jealousy is rooted in the way that parents divide resources like their time, energy, and finances. If you think in terms of economics, these resources are inherently scarce, which means they’re less available to you when they’re being used on your siblings. “A dynamic can emerge where the sibling relationship becomes one fraught with competition to secure these resources,” observes Dr. Lapointe. “Enter jealousy and a host of other emotions, alongside thought patterns meant to resolve any existing cognitive dissonance about those emotions.”
While the feelings surrounding jealousy might be complicated, Dr. Lapointe points out that the sources of jealousy are pretty finite when it comes to our parents:
1. Commonalities With Your Parents
2. Feeling a Sense of Belonging in Your family
3. Feeling Significant in Your Family
4. Feeling Warmth and Love
5. Feeling Fully and Deeply Known
Sure, there are plenty of immediate things that can make you jealous of your siblings. However, these five themes are generally prevalent on a deeper level that has to do with your parents. For example, if your sister and dad love to hike together, you lose out on your dad’s commonality resource and therefore can more heavily scrutinize your sister’s habits (e.g., “I’m not as outdoorsy/athletic as my sister”).
If you’re self-aware enough to assess these feelings for yourself, you’re probably wondering how to remedy them. “At the end of the day, addressing the problematic dynamic of sibling rivalry actually comes down to addressing the parent-child relationship rather than the sibling relationship,” Dr. Lapointe recommends. “If the child can feel secure in the parent-child relationship, then the sibling dynamic will also be resolved.” But changing these longstanding relationships is easier said than done. To ease the transition, Dr. Lapointe suggests starting with an open discussion that’s confirmed by caring actions.
So here’s the bottom line: You might never stop stealing each other’s clothes, but you can take steps to keep the green-eyed monster out of your relationships with your siblings.
How do you deal with sibling rivalry? Let us know @BritandCo!
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Back in January, we introduced you to a feel-good cause to inspire your New Year's resolution: a walking challenge to help raise funds for the amazing cancer fighters at The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society. I took part in the challenge with the Brit + Co team and ended up walking 105+ miles in January — it was awesome.
This spring, there's a new challenge on the horizon, The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society's Big Climb. The ask: On May 15, 2021, you can step up to take cancer down by committing to climb 1,311 steps, walking 3.2 miles, or doing 440 chair step-ups at home as part of the Big Climb. If you need some motivation to bring movement back into your daily routine — look no further!
As always, it's free to sign up, but climbers are encouraged to set a fundraising goal to help beat cancer. We'll be organizing another Brit + Co team to step up, and I hope you'll join us too! Keep scrolling for a peek at where I'll be completing the challenge in my Los Angeles neighborhood around the hidden Silver Lake Stairs. Happy climbing!
Never underestimate the power of an accountability buddy! I asked my in-laws, my partner, and a few friends to join me so we can keep each other motivated and accountable in completing the challenge — virtual high-fives all around! Also, my dog Fox is a great climber, too.
An aesthetically pleasing backdrop is a huge motivator for me! I'm fortunate to have all sorts of painted steps around my neighborhood to keep the challenge interesting, but you can also keep cool inside with at-home chair step-ups.
Don't forget to share your progress on social — #BigClimb!
Feel free to break the challenge up if you need to by tackling half the distance in the AM and half at sunset. Here's me 1,311 steps later and ready for a break — but, think I earned this one!