Since Annabelle was the first grandchild on Brandon’s side and the first granddaughter on my side, she was welcomed into the world with quite the celebration. For the first 2 years and 8 months of her life, she was showered with everything she could ever dream of and treated like the priceless gift she truly is. As we prepared for Ailey’s arrival, everyone thought big sister would do just fine. Annabelle is a lover, not a fighter, afterall.
I can’t pinpoint the first time Annabelle seemed to be jealous her sister, probably because I honestly didn’t notice it. The days and weeks after Ailey was born are a bit of a blur. However, there is an instance that sticks out in my mind around the one month mark. Ailey was crying and attempting to nurse, while Annabelle danced around in front of me wanting to play. “Mommy just play with me!” she whined over and over again. As I was finally getting Ailey to latch, Annabelle grabbed my hand and pulled with quite a bit of strength, “Mommy stop feeding Ailey and play. with. me!” As the sound of Annabelle’s voice rose, Ailey began crying. Then meltdowns ensued from both girls.
My immediate reaction is a bit foggy, but I calmed Ailey first and then tried to explain how Ailey was just a baby who couldn’t wait to eat. I learned quickly that Annabelle didn’t exactly understand the whole wait thing because a day or two later she was becoming frustrated again at her sister taking Mommy away from play time.
At some point, Annabelle moved her focus to Daddy. As soon as he arrived home from work she would be dancing around his feet, “Let’s play Daddy! Let’s play!” There were times when he could jump right into a game of Daddy Bear, but others, after sitting in traffic for an hour he would want to grab a bite of dinner first. I can’t confirm that Annabelle seemed to blame her sister for this, but she did start taking toys away from her. She would also get herself into enough trouble doing naughty things to earn a timeout from Mommy or Daddy. We knew she wanted our attention, but misbehaving was the wrong way to get it.
So what did we do?
Annabelle is wise beyond her three years of age, so both Brandon and I knew we could have a serious talk with her about what was going on. We recognized her desire for attention and explained that there was a right and a wrong way to ask for it. I went through most scenarios with Annabelle (feeding Ailey, Daddy coming home from work) and we talked about ways she could safely get our attention. There was no doubt in our minds Annabelle loved her sister, but we knew she felt like we were ignoring her because of the baby. I made a point to explain how we love BOTH girls oh so much and just the same. Brandon and I also agreed to make more time for one-on-one with Annabelle.
Sibling rivalry can start early as problems usually arise after a second child is born (source). I don’t believe sibling rivalry should be defined as combined jealousy, competition, and fighting – perhaps it is just one of the above or something that’ll develop when both girls are a bit older. What we witnessed with Annabelle is a desire for attention (and maybe a bit of jealousy) after her new sister was born. I don’t think we could have avoided the situation, but I do believe we handled it quite well.
Here are some tips for dealing with early sibling rivalry:
- Never compare the children – a toddler and a baby are not the same.
- Be open and understanding to the oldest child’s behavior – there is always a reason she’s acting out!
- Give the older child special time alone with you, as well as enough space to play by herself. Encourage alone time!
- Plan fun family activities everyone can enjoy.
Annabelle and Ailey are wearing the most adorable dresses from Matilda Jane. They are made from the softest cotton and most adorable tulle. We were sent the dresses by the sweetest Momma, Cari, who has a beautiful little girl, Hattie Jo. She started hosting Matilda Jane trunk shows as a way to connect with Mommas and their own daughters. Matilda Jane’s motto, “Its all about keeping a little girl… a little girl” really speaks to her!
Matilda Jane offers matching styles in a variety of sizes for sisters of all ages – I think they even have stuff for Moms! Cari has a Mystery Jane show open if you’d like to place an order. Just create an account and choose Cari Watts-Savage as your Jane at checkout. Then select the 3/22 show to enter to win half off items.
Tayler Morrell says
I was almost three when my baby sister was born and apparently, I was really jealous and pushed her a lot in our early childhood. (I don’t remember it…haha). Rhys was 2.5 when we had Evelyn and the first month or so, every time I was feeding Evelyn or trying to rock her to sleep, Rhys desperately wanted my attention. I had to explain to him that I had to take care of Evelyn first, then have special time with him. Eventually, we came up with a plan…to help him practice patience and wait till I was done taking care of Evelyn, he got to play with the Wii-U, either the simple games we have on it or watch youtube. So, now, whenever I head to the rocking chair, Rhys will ask, “Wii-U?” And then run to go get it.