Why are you jealous of your child

Many parents feel that their children cannot really be with each other, but neither can they without each other. And comparisons are constantly made suspiciously: How long does one cuddle with the mother, how big is the portion of the other's favorite food? The social pedagogue Joachim Armbrust explains when parents should intervene in case of jealousy among siblings and why this even helps the children to develop further.

Süddeutsche.de: Can there be siblings who are not jealous of each other?

Joachim Armbrust: No, this feeling is always there. Studies have shown that a child's greatest fear is losing their parents. The second greatest is the fear that love will no longer fall on them. So it is watched jealously how mother and father treat the sibling - and fiercely argued about the love of the parents.

What is causing this dispute?

Small things are enough for the feeling that brother or sister are preferred: apparently bigger gifts, more attention or the other person always gets the soup first. Parents think that by acting justly, they can avoid jealousy. But you're wrong.

How so?

Because they have a different bond with each child. Parents see different types in their children, who are sometimes closer to them, sometimes less close: the shy mother recognizes herself in the reserved daughter, the daring older one is essentially a stranger to her.

So do parents have favorite children after all?

Yes, you can't help it. That can depend on the situation, for example if you have more fun with the brave child in the swimming pool than with the fearful one. Often, however, it is fundamentally because parents have a different approach to each daughter and son. And sometimes a very special connection, for example because they are similar in character. Or because they had to struggle to survive the child when it was born because it was in an incubator. Something like that shapes the relationship, and the other children notice it too.

And complain: You prefer my brother to me. How do parents react to this?

You can't deny it, don't just pass it over and say: "You're wrong, of course I love you straight away!" Because the other child will notice the difference.