how to deal with jealousy and sibling rivalry?

Our 4 year old had a sudden outburst the other day that left me in shock.

Me: Don't hit your brother with the pillow. He's just a baby!

TL#1: No, I want to kill him. I want him to die!


Me (as calmly as I could): No of course not. You don't mean that.

Part of me was scared and wanted to deny what I heard.

TL#1: No, I want to kill him.

I was supposed to scold him and tell him that was a bad thing to say but I stopped myself. I realized I was not acknowledging his feelings. I was trying to invalidate them with my words.

Good thing I read a few pages of the book How to Talk So Kids Will Listen and Listen So Kids Will Talk. The book gives the following first aid to help a child in distress:


1. Listen with full attention.

2. Acknowledge their feelings with a word - "Oh". . ."Mmm". . . "I see."

3. Give their feelings a name.

Here's a sample illustration from the book (click to enlarge).

4. Give them their wishes in fantasy.

So I backtracked a bit.

Me: Why would you say that? What has he done to you?

TL#1: He's always stepping on me, always stepping on me and it hurts!

(His little brother has a quirky habit of waking him up by stepping on him)

And it got to me that we always call his attention when he plays rough with his brother. But we don't do the same when his little brother steps on him or pulls his hair. We even find it cute and funny. Double standards. It was not okay for him to hurt his brother but we keep mum when his little brother hurts him. As a four year old, this must have seem so unfair to him.

Me: Oh, I get it. You must be feeling mad. Don't worry, i'll talk to your brother. (Then turning to our little one) Please don't hurt your big brother. Say sorry to him.

And the little one didn't understand a word. But somehow, those words pacified the big one.

Me: Your little brother says he's sorry. He won't hurt you again. Bati na kayo ha. . There's no hurting each other in this house.

TL#1: Okay.

And so far, he seemed to have forgotten about that outburst.

It's hard to find a balance but I try to divide my attention equally to the two boys. When I compliment one, I also have to say something nice to the other. I sometimes catch the big one looking on forlornly when i'm peppering the little one with hugs and kisses. He gets really jealous. I guess I should be happy that he is vocal with his feelings. At least we know and we can deal with it.

At times, we manage to keep the peace at home but when they start throwing tantrums or fighting over a toy, I also join in the conundrum unless the husband steps in to referee. Hehe. Chaos! I'm not exactly a calm person.

It's so difficult to be a mother to two little boys. I feel so inadequate most of the time and I don't know where or how to start mending my wrongs and addressing my limitations. I should really give more priority to honing my parenting skills. Hirap! I have the tendency to be apathetic because I find it hard to cope.

Like these days, the little one's so clingy to mommy. He would cry every time I leave him. While I cuddle him, the big one will also crave for my attention. Gusto rin, ako lang! I don't know if I should be flattered or if I should have a breakdown with them. Waaah! Help!

And then they start being cute and my heart just melts from all the love and joy. Rollercoaster ride of emotions!

Got to finish reading the book before I go insane. :)

*got the book from Amazon using a gift card from a friend :)

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad


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