Hashkafa shiur summary
Jealousy Among Siblings
by Rav Simcha Klein
- Strong jealousy amongst young siblings1 is normal and is not indicative of their future bad midos2.
- Chazal3 warns parents to be very careful about stoking the flames of jealousy amongst siblings by exhibiting any form of favoritism to one child over another4.
- Parents are often not fully aware how much each and every one of their children deeply crave their love and attention.
- The sense of parental devotion is critical to the psyche of children as sunlight is to plants.
- When a child exhibits intense jealousy over a seemingly trivial item received by a different sibling, his acute jealousy is really over the perceived extra measure of devotion5 received by that sibling6, not over the item in question.
- Merely instructing children not to be jealous won’t solve this issue.
- Making a “big deal” over an accomplishment of any one child by effusively praising him in front of his siblings creates an atmosphere of jealousy in the home7.
- Accomplishments should be noticed and praised only in a calm and offhanded manner8.
- When an older child is jealous of all the attention given to a newborn sibling, it is advisable to make the older child feel as if he is the “helper” in caring for the baby9. He will then perceive the newborn as his project as opposed to his competition.
- Although motivating children with prizes can be beneficial, a sense of competition10 among siblings should always be avoided11
- When a child feels, for whatever reason, that he is not receiving his due of parental attention12, it is advised to take that child out of school for an hour every once in a while, and spend quality time with him by treating him to a nosh or a meal in a restaurant. Those precious moments of interaction with just the two of you will be a tremendous boost to your child13.
- There exists is big distinction between wrongful kinnah and the positive kinas sofrim tarbe chachmoh14.
1. Rav Shlomo Zalman Aurbach Z”L once remarked that he notices even respectable adults finding it hard to hear the praises of a sibling; see Binas Hamidos (p. 231).
2. Personal letter from Rav Shach Z”L to Rav Dovid Barkin Z”L of Telz.
3. Shabbos 10b [אמר רב לעולם אל ישנה אדם בנו בין הבנים שבשביל משקל שני סלעים מילת שנתן יעקב ליוסף יותר משאר בניו נתקנאו בו אחיו ונתגלגל הדבר וירדו אבותינו למצרים]
4. See Avos D’Reb Nosson (28:3) regarding the obligation of parents to ensure there is no negative competition and jealousy among their children.
5. That is of such extreme importance to him.
6. Binas Hamidos (p. 230) compares sibling rivalry to the extreme jealousy that exists between [צרות] co-wives competing for their husband’s attention as described by Chazal.
7. Rav Shteinman Shlita as quoted in Binas Hamidos (p. 233).
9. See Igros Harav Volbe and Sefer Zikaron Michtav Eliyahu.
10. In a competition, the winners are glorified at the expense of the losers (see Pesachim 89b banim shfeilim); this leads to further jealousy and bad middos.
11. Binas Hamidos (p. 234).
12. This could happen particularly to a quiet child among many boisterous and loud siblings.
13. Advice of numerous experienced parents.
14. See Orchos Yosher (Kinnah).