Sibling rivalry

Now aged 19 months, Kara’s personality and preferences are starting to emerge and two things have become apparent. Firstly, she adores her oldest brother Isaac. And secondly, she really dislikes Toby.

Okay, ‘dislike’ is putting it a bit strongly. But there is a strong preference for Isaac and definite moments of sibling rivalry with Toby – and Toby alone – which has never really been an issue between the two boys.

We all love each other, really

Watch it, mister, I’ll get you later …

Truth be told, we’re not sure why this is the case. Both boys are equally affectionate and protective of their little sister. They watch over her, frequently include her in activities and are always quick to offer a concerned cuddle when she’s upset.

Maybe it’s the fact that Toby is closer to Kara in age and therefore a more direct rival for Mummy and Daddy’s attention than Isaac – even though Isaac is by far the more demanding of our two boys. But whereas Isaac can happily snuggle up with me on the sofa in front of the TV, say, if Toby does the same she will charge across the room, leap into my lap and forcibly evict him, using whatever combination of slaps, scratches and other weapons is required to get the job done. I’m waiting for the day she comes at him with a kitchen knife.

The same goes with stories at bedtime. Kara will share a parental lap with Isaac, but never Toby.

And while she has learned to say Isaac’s name distinctly – as well as “Mummy”, “Daddy”, “Grandma” and “Grandpa” – it is surely no coincidence that any attempt to draw “Toby” from her is either met with stonewalled silence or with an evil cackle followed by “Isaac”.

Toby, to his credit, takes it all with remarkable equanimity. I’ve never seen him retaliate, despite provocation which occasionally reaches levels beyond that which countries have gone to war over. Even though it is rarely returned, he always seems happy to greet Kara with a smile and continue to shower affection on her.

Hopefully this is just a phase Kara is going through as her speech catches up with the rest of her development. Otherwise we might just be in for a serious case of the ‘terrible twos’ in a way we never did with either of our sons. Watch this space.

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9 thoughts on “Sibling rivalry

    • There’s just over 2 years between them (and the same between the two boys).

      I guess it’s nothing unusual but it’s interesting just how differently she regards her two brothers!

  1. They are adorable. Sibling rivalry is what it is. It will either fade or grow, I don’t want you to think differently. But you loving all three equally will push it to the good. :) They are gorgeous and I’d hug each one if I could.
    Merry Christmas!!!
    Kate

    • Generally explain to her with a measure of calmness why it’s not nice to act the way she does and why it’s nice to share space so that we can all cuddle up together. Of course, it’s easy to overreact in such circumstances – I’ve been guilty of that on more than one occasion too, unfortunately.

  2. What Katebortell said…but added. I have four kids. My youngest is the princess and she has always showed a definite preference for one of her three brothers. I asked her why, (she’s 9 now) and she said it was because “Keegan played with me and no one else did…” But that’s not the truth. The brother closer to her in age who she sees as her rival, is also the brother that most adores her, played with her, cuddled with her, shared with her any treats he might have had. When she was about three she told me and wanted to marry Keegan; she told me that he “smelled the best.” I established clear boundaries when they were young about how we treated each other, controls on word use, and physical expression that help keep the rivalry from getting ugly. (knife play is not allowed.) But the dynamic still exists.

    • Interesting. I guess there’s no getting away from it. Sibling rivalry can never be eradicated, only maintained at a civil level. What you say is definitely true that it’s not about which older sibling “loves her more”. Both our boys are brilliant with their sister, but for some reason that spark is there between Kara and the younger of her brothers. For now we’re trying to coach her into understanding her behaviour so that she changes because she wants to rather than because we tell her to, but it’s tough work so far. We’ll get there sooner rather than later, hopefully!

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