My 5yo daughter is getting so jealous of her 2yo sister that she grabs everything that the other picks up (it can be anything from worthless plastic bag to newspaper) and throws a fit. Now her sister is getting very scared and throws a thing that she picks up to her sister and runs away.

We have always been showing them the same respect and providing same care, same ownership and same love.

I'm extremely worried that they will eventually become enemies.

  • My question is very similar (as were the answers). Basically, just keep working on it! As for worrying that they will become enemies, remember that sibling fighting and jealousy is normal. It won't necessarily lead to being enemies :)
    – Bobo
    Aug 22, 2014 at 17:43

2 Answers 2


Sounds pretty normal to me, at least up to a point. 3 and 17 months here, and not that different; except the 17 month old stands up to himself a bit better.

We handle it in a very straightforward manner. Any toy grabbing means immediate removal of that toy from play for the day, unless that would excessively harm the wronged party if there is a clear wronged party. In that case, an equivalent toy is gone for the day that belongs to the party in the wrong. However, we tend towards removing the toy that is the proximate cause of conflict, because it often defuses the conflict more effectively (they will just go back to fighting over the same toy otherwise).

It's not always perfectly effective, but it does tend to work fairly well on balance. We also try to work with the older child on empathy: explaining to him how his younger brother feels, and reminding him how he feels when his brother takes things from him.

You can also help by training your older daughter to have positive interactions with her younger sibling. Train her to give her younger sister toys, rather than take them away. When our older boy wants a toy the younger one has, we reinforce that he should offer a trade. We point out when his younger brother is sad and what he can do to help - offer a toy, pick up a fallen item, etc. This all reinforces, positively, things he can do that make his brother happy, without too much negative reinforcement. Negative reinforcement is the biggest problem here, I would suggest: if all the older one knows is negative things related to the younger one, well, that has an obvious outcome.

  • we had tried this method and still have hopes this would make this better, but still no effect. The biggest problem is oldest is grabbing from her sibling just not only toy, almost everything, literally "EVERYTHING". Aug 18, 2014 at 5:36
  • 3
    Consistency and patience. Consistency and patience. Such is parenting ...
    – Joe
    Aug 18, 2014 at 5:42

Joe's approach is exactly what I'd do, too. I'd like to contribute an answer but essentially I'd be repeating what Joe said. Instead I can elaborate a little.

Negative behavior has negative consequences. Always. That will probably mean that when you first start to use Joe's tactic, pretty soon there will be no toys left in the room and the kids will be unhappy. Well, it's not your fault, you're just enforcing the rules. Know that it will take some time for the kids to understand and accept that they themselves are responsible for the punishment.

If they have separate rooms, offer to put one toy in their own room which they can play with, but only as long as they stay out of the sister's room and don't grab the sister's toy. This might train them (especially the older girl) to respect both personal property and personal space. They are going to have to learn that someday, might as well be now.

To be fair, you should also try to be consistent about age-specific toys:

  • The older girl should not play with "baby toys" (she only does that to annoy her sister),
  • and the younger should not play with "older toys" (you probably have some "common toys" that are just as suitable for the younger).

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