Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Sibling Rivalry - Sort Of

We have a problem.  The first step to getting help is admitting that there is a problem, right?  This problem is not one I was prepared for.  It’s one of those things that you don’t really want to talk about for fear of what others may think.  We have kept it pretty quiet thus far.  We elude to the problem very vaguely and with humor while trying to cover up the problem.  It sounds a little like infertility, doesn’t it?  It’s definitely not that.  Not anymore, anyway.

The problem is the relationship between our Baby Girl (BG) and the Little Guy (LG).  When people ask us what he thinks of her we are very honest with our answers.  He loves her to pieces.  He adores her.  He’s great with her.  When people ask us what she thinks of him we cringe and stammer out a less than truthful answer.  She loves him.  They play well together.  It’s hit or miss…you know how toddlers are.


The truth is that she doesn’t really like him.  She doesn’t like it when he tries to pick her up.  She doesn’t like it when he touches her or holds her toy or even lays on one of her blankets on the floor.  If I ask him to put her in her high chair she takes off running and tries to hide from him.  Sometimes she will come into the kitchen and try to hide behind my legs…all the while whining and trying to get away from him.  She has hit him on several occasions.  She refuses to tell him “night, night”.  She acts like it’s the end of the world if we ask her to give him a goodnight hug.

He’s never been mean to her.  He’s never alone with her.  He “picks” on her sometimes like a big brother does but it’s nothing that should make her behave this way.  It’s very upsetting to me.  It’s upsetting because I want to tell him to just leave her alone.  Stop trying to get a hug.  Stop trying to pick her up.  And then the other side of it is that I’m upset because I don’t know how to fix this.  She’s 20 months old (how did THAT happen?) and I feel like I can’t leave her with him for fear that she will have a complete meltdown.  He’s 13 so I know he could handle watching her for short amounts of time but the anxiety I would feel while away is just not worth it.

We are always inclusive when we are playing with her.  We include him in everything and try to make playing with him fun.  We hug him to show her that hugging him is ok.  Nothing is working.

There are times that she completely surprises us and sits with him on the couch while they watch cartoons.  And there’s times that she sits on his lap while he reads her a story.  When we are playing on the floor we can sometimes get her to happily include him in our activity.  When we are eating dinner she will be silly with him across the table.  He will take her outside and they will color with chalk or walk around in the driveway by themselves.  Those times are the rarity, though.  It breaks my heart because I know how upset he gets when she pushes him away and wants nothing to do with him.  He loves her so much and she acts like he’s the enemy.  It’s awful.  BJ gets annoyed with her and tells her to “stop acting like that” and “why are treating your brother this way?”  “Quit being mean to your brother”.  I hate that he tells her she’s mean.  It’s not untrue but I don’t like it.

It started when she was about 13 or 14 months, I guess.  It’s getting worse as she gets older.  I just don’t know how to handle it.  He’s with us 50% of the time meaning every other day and every other weekend so it’s not like she doesn’t see him enough to grow attached to him.  I really thought that by now she’d be excited to see him and sad when he leaves.  Instead, she refuses his hugs and couldn’t care less when he’s gone.  Well, that’s not true.  She does ask about him when he’s not there but not in an “I miss my brother” sort of way.  It’s more of a “where is he?” and that’s it.

Anyway, I’m at a loss here folks.  I do not like talking about this with people because they get a look on their face that makes me want to crawl into a hole.  I’ve had one person ask me if the LG has done something to her.  Ugh…I know he hasn’t.  He’s never alone with her.  I feel ashamed and I don’t even know where to turn for help.  I don’t know people with children this far apart in age.  The only reference I have is myself.  I’m 8.5 years older than my brother.  The thing is, he wanted to be with me all the time while we were growing up so I can’t understand why BG wants nothing to do with her big brother.  Any advice out there?  I’m feeling rather defeated right now.


Anonymous said...

This is tough! I just wanted to share our experience. I have a 5 year old daughter and a 20 month old daughter, and we are experiencing the exact same situation - the 5 year old LOVES her little sister, and the little sister doesn't exactly reciprocate. :) We see many of the same behaviors from our 20 month old, with not wanting to be hugged/picked up/touched or share (especially mom) with big sister. Some hitting, lots of screaming. I was really disappointed with this at first, but honestly, I truly believe it's just a phase for my daughter, and it's likely a phase for yours as well. They are just starting to taste some independence and I think sometimes they feel like older siblings are trying to take some of that away! They don't want to be hugged right now. They don't want to be lifted up right now, and older siblings aren't as in tune to their needs as mommies and daddies are to recognize that! :)

So, please remember that you are not alone in this! I definitely think that once she is a little older she will recognize that having an older brother has some awesome benefits. It just might take a little bit to learn that he's not purposely trying to steal her independence!

Anonymous said...

Agree with the other commenter. My younger niece was down right mean to her sweet older sis at that age. They are not as far apart in age as yours but it was about that same time frame. Now they have a great relationship. Just try to not focus on it and let it go for a while (unless she bites him or something, which my younger niece did often) and see if she grows out of this.

someday-soon said...

Toddlers have a mean streak and are SO self absorbed. If there are activities (blowing bubbles, playing with play doh, etc.) that she is particularly fond of maybe you can reserve those to be brother and sister only activities. Also I might explain to him that sometimes little kids have a big "body bubble" and they usually grow out of it but for the time being he might need to let her initiate hugs/kisses.

Rebecca said...

Hoping it is just a stage she'll outgrow