Children's responses to mother-infant and father-infant interaction with a baby sibling: Jealousy or joy?

Brenda L. Volling, Tianyi Yu, Richard Gonzalez, Denise E. Kennedy, Lauren Rosenberg, Wonjung Oh

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

19 Scopus citations


Firstborn children's reactions to mother-infant and father-infant interaction after a sibling's birth were examined in an investigation of 224 families. Triadic observations of parent-infant-sibling interaction were conducted at 1 month after the birth. Parents reported on children's problem behaviors at 1 and 4 months after the birth and completed the Attachment Q-sort before the birth. Latent profile analysis (LPA) identified 4 latent classes (behavioral profiles) for mother-infant and father-infant interactions: regulated-exploration, disruptive-dysregulated, approach-avoidant, and anxious-clingy. A fifth class, attention-seeking, was found with fathers. The regulated-exploration class was the normative pattern (60%), with few children in the disruptive class (2.7%). Approach-avoidant children had more behavior problems at 4 months than any other class, with the exception of the disruptive children, who were higher on aggression and attention problems. Before the birth, anxious-clingy children had less secure attachments to their fathers than approach avoidant children but more secure attachments to their mothers. Results underscore individual differences in firstborns' behavioral responses to parent-infant interaction and the importance of a person-centered approach for understanding children's jealousy.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)634-644
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of Family Psychology
Issue number5
StatePublished - 2014


  • Attachment
  • Birth of a sibling
  • Fathers
  • Firstborn adjustment
  • Infant sibling
  • Jealousy


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