Sibling rivalry:Four myths about infant jealousy


Jealousy temperaments can also be channeled. Jealousy can be diminished or it can be intensified. Commonly seen upsurges in acting-out behaviors, aroused by a new baby’s arrival, usually subside over a period of time. Warm and playful camaraderie can evolve, sometimes leading to mature and lasting attachments. Yet, in other instances, the problems seem to just get worse. Instead of adjustments, antipathies grow and rivalries become only more divisive over time. In some cases, siblings never manage to bond at all.

From Preventing Sibling Rivalry by Sybil Hart, PhD


Infant jealousy is not a trait and is not resistant to change. It does not signify flawed character, unsatisfactory bonding, underpreparation, or poor parenting. Nor does it start the day the newborn comes home. Infant jealousy is the inevitable outcome of receiving our earliest and most tender, loving care within an exclusive relationship. All infants come to expect preferential or exclusive care and all are distressed by the loss of this special status, yet some infants develop hot temperaments, while others are cool. Differences in jealousy depend on an infant’s innate predisposition and on the quality of early care. Through a normal and gradual process of emotional growth, experiences with parents shape the way in which early jealousy temperaments are later expressed with siblings.


Preventing Sibling Rivalry

by Sybil Hart, PhD

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