I am the proud father of two daughters. And, for the most part, they love each other as much as sisters can.
Even though we try to treat our daughters equally, our youngest daughter is still only 4 and, as a result, there are times when she might need more attention than her 9-year-old sister. As a result of this, there are times when our oldest daughter will get upset and even act a bit more childish simply because she’s jealous and wants some of the attention.
Since we obviously can’t have her acting like she belongs in preschool, I have been proactively attempting to help her through this jealousy and, thanks to three simple steps, she seems to be improving.
The first thing I started doing was letting her help take care of her sister. My daughter is still a little too young to babysit her younger sister. But, when my wife is at work and I have some other project that needs to be done (such as mowing the lawn), I’ll put her in charge for short periods of time.
Doing this has helped my oldest daughter in a couple of ways. The first is she learns, first hand, what her younger sister still needs help doing and, more often than not, the fact she has to help her sister does make her feel a bit better about herself.
In addition, caring for her sister for these short periods of time also gives her a slightly better understanding of the choices my wife and I have to make while raising two girls. She still doesn’t like the fact her younger sister gets more attention on occasion. But, because she has helped take care of her, she does understand the reasons behind that a bit better.
Another thing I started doing was finding time for just the two of us. Sometimes, it’s watching a movie together after her sister goes to bed. Other times, I’ll take her to the store with me while her younger sister stays at home. I’m also getting her in the kitchen with me and teaching her how to cook.
In total, this time amounts to about two hours each week. But, it helps remind her that I (and her mother) still think about her and care about her.
The last thing I did was start putting my foot down. The one thing I made perfectly clear to my oldest daughter a few weeks ago was, while I understand where her jealousy comes from, I still expect her to be the more mature daughter. In other words, if she throws a temper tantrum over something, she will still get punished. And, this rule has helped greatly because she knows, while we recognize her feelings, we do have limits.
Our daughter still has some jealousy issues when it comes to her younger sister. But, these steps have helped keep them under control a bit more than they were before and, hopefully, with a bit more time, she will get over them completely.