A Siblings Birthday Celebration and Feelings of Jealousy

Occupational Therapy Family Services, LLC


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Birthday Parties are a time for fun and excitement. But what happens when the sibling is jealous and what you can do about it.

Today was sweet Lexi’s Birthday and her slightly older brother was less than thrilled that all the attention was on her.  Throughout the day when the family said happy birthday, he would chime in reminding everyone his birthday was in a month.  During the opening of presents, he tried to open some as well.  During blowing out of the candle he tried to blow it out before her.

For children, it can be very hard not to be the one at the center of all the attention and it is often shown through negative behaviors such as acting out, temper tantrums, interruptions, and attention-seeking. 

Planning for the party can go a long way in preventing challenging behaviors at the party.  Here are 5 ways to help the non-birthday child

  • Let your child plan a fun surprise for the birthday child – this could be picking out a special birthday gift, making a card, decorating the cake, or helping with decorations
  • Have the non-birthday child invite a friend to play with during the birthday party
  • Ask a relative or special friend to come to the birthday celebration to give the non-birthday child some extra special attention
  • Make an extra goodie bag for the sibling
  • Have something extra special planned for the non-birthday child after the birthday celebration like playing a game, going for walk, or watching a special movie.
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You can read books in preparation for a birthday.  Here are a few books we recommend:

If you had your birthday party on the moon

Ten Rules for the Birthday Party Wish

Bigfoot does not like Birthday Parties

Unicorn Day

However, even with planning tantrums and crying can occur.  This is a great time to have a discussion with the non-birthday sibling about waiting for their birthday.  Make sure to acknowledge the feelings of sadness, anger, and frustration with having to wait.  

Today during our birthday celebrations our son verbalized how frustrated he was that all the attention was on his sister and that he didn’t get any presents.  After acknowledging the frustration we asked him who else didn’t get presents.  He stated that mom, dad and grandma, and grandpa didn’t get any presents either.  Given his age, this did help him feel slightly better.  We also discussed how his birthday was coming up soon and maybe he could start getting his birthday wish list ready.

However, bending over backward for the non-birthday sibling can backfire.  It is still very important to make the day about the birthday child.  The ultimate goal is to find balance and help the non-birthday siblings learn to enjoy their sibling’s special day.


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