Q • Our 10-year-old daughter is jealous of her 13-year-old sister to the point that she will hide some of her things from her and even break some of her belongings. We will look all over the house and all of a sudden the younger one will say she found it. We didn't believe the oldest daughter for a long time until we bought her a new cell phone and it came up missing. I actually found it stuffed in between the youngest daughter's mattress while changing her sheets. What can we do to encourage the youngest one not to be this way toward her sister?
From a reader • I used to be very jealous of my older sister and constantly heard that I was too young to do whatever. In our situation, my parents ignored the name calling that she seemed to always blurt out and it really hurt my feelings. Whatever you do, do not allow the older sister to label your younger daughter without some kind of consequences; it's just not worth it. To this day, I have ill feelings toward not only my sister but also my parents. — P.T. in Rochester, N.Y.
From Jodie Lynn • It's pretty common for younger siblings to be a little jealous of their older ones, especially when one is a teenager and the other is intensely yearning to become one. Even though the 10-year-old is probably more mature than her older sister was at the same age, it's still hard to try to keep things fair.
If the younger one is actually breaking/hiding the older one's items, it sounds like there may be taunting going on when you're not around. Set up a recording device without them knowing it and listen to their conversations. If you find out that there is teasing or whatever taking place, step in and work on changing that behavior as soon as possible.
It's important to put yourself in the place of your younger daughter in various situations by listening to her complaints and reactions as well as your own. For example, try to understand her feelings when the older one gets to do something or buy something that she is simply too young for. What is she really feeling and saying? What do your comments say to her?
Sometimes our own physical and emotional reactions to specific situations fuel the jealousy without us even knowing it. Try not to compare the two if it's going to hurt either one of their feelings. Try to make the younger one feel special by spending time alone with her and doing things she enjoys.
Don't allow any name-calling between the two of them, as the reader above suggested. (The recording will help to pinpoint when and why this may happen.)
Talk to her older sister and help her to understand how certain words hurt her sister's feelings.
CAN YOU HELP?
We are parents who are caring for our own kids and also aging family members and are referred to as the sandwich generation. With all of our responsibilities, our personal lifestyle and savings have gone by the wayside, especially since our money seems to always be tied up with our parents and kids. What is the best way to talk to our 12- and 14-year-olds about why we have to stay on a budget and teach them to do the same without making them fearful of their futures?