Sibling jealousy in a triadic context with mothers and fathers

Alison L. Miller, Brenda L. Volling, Nancy L. McElwain

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The current study focused on jealousy between toddler and preschool siblings. Sixty-two families participated in triadic interaction sessions, in which mothers and then fathers were instructed to focus on one child (older sibling or toddler) while encouraging the other child to play with other toys in the room. Results indicated that child jealousy reactions differed between mothers and fathers, and parents behaved differently with older and younger siblings. Although older and younger siblings showed jealousy, older children were better than their toddler-age siblings at regulating jealousy responses and engaging in focused play. Further, younger siblings showed differences in jealous behavior when interacting with each parent, whereas older siblings showed somewhat greater behavioral consistency across parents, indicating internalization of emotion regulation style. Mothers expressed more happiness than fathers, and parents responded differently to older versus younger siblings' behaviors. Findings underscore the importance of examining emotion regulation processes within salient family relationships and of considering sibling interaction as a socialization context in which young children learn to negotiate emotional challenges.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)433-457
Number of pages25
JournalSocial Development
Issue number4
StatePublished - Jan 1 2000
Externally publishedYes


  • Family relationships
  • Jealousy
  • Siblings

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Sociology and Political Science
  • Social Sciences (miscellaneous)

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