Isn't 3 a Little Young for Sibling Rivalry? Apparently Not

On their best behavior.

As much as I love having a 3-year-old (and I do! I really, really do!), I’ve started noticing some new and, shall we say, spirited behavior from my little darling.

She’s a girl who knows what she wants, and by durn, she’s gonna make it happen. She’s bossy. Particular. And can I add that she’s not a fan of the sharing?

Having two older children, I knew to expect this. After all, this is just the kind of behavior that some have taken to labeling the “troublesome threes.” But there is one issue in particular that I’ve noticed more and more frequently since her 3rd birthday, and I’m scratching my head about how to handle it.

Sibling rivalry.

In the (admittedly small) amount of time I’ve spent researching the subject, I’m finding tips galore for helping families cope with new baby-related sibling rivalry. I’m not finding a lot of information about a sudden shift in a 3-year-old’s sense of security (because that’s really where this is rooted, after all) when no major changes have occurred. If anything, we’ve spent more time together as a family this summer than any other time since she was a newborn.

So what gives?

Since my daughter is the youngest, it could be that she resents that her 5- and 9-year-old brothers enjoy privileges that she doesn’t yet have. They have frequent play dates and are allowed to do some activities without my supervision (such as riding their bikes in specified areas or even just getting their own snacks from the pantry). If this is the case she hasn’t verbalized it yet, though.

It could be that she feels like the odd “woman” out as the only girl. My boys share a room and enjoy the same types of activities, like Star Wars and video games and other things she isn’t old enough to appreciate yet. But again, she hasn’t expressed any of this to me or even displayed any signs that this is bothering her.

I may never understand where this behavior is coming from, but the experts tell me that I should minimize comparisons, promote empathy, and encourage teamwork among my squabbling siblings.

I also know that this, too, shall pass. But man. So will a kidney stone.

Has your toddler declared war on his or her older siblings? What works in your home?


Mary Lauren Weimer is a social worker turned mother turned writer. Her blog, My 3 Little Birds, encourages moms to put down the baby books for a moment and tell their own stories. Connect with her on Facebook and Twitter.

More by Mary Lauren:

Back to School Baggie Binders: My Secret Weapon for Finally Becoming Organized

Toddler Packing 101

Back to the Basics: 12 Toddler Essentials

Article Posted 4 years Ago

Videos You May Like