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Your Child Asks, 'Who Do You Love More, My Sibling or Me?' The Best Ways to Answer
  • Kids ask a lot of questions that are amusing, weird or both. And then some catch moms and dads by surprise, like the classic: “Who do you love more, my sibling or me?” How does a parent respond that a child will understand and know he is loved? Below, experts provide suggestions how parents can answer this question.

    Give the classic answer: “I love each of you”

    The phrase “I love each of you” is an excellent and effective way to respond to the who-do-you-love more question. Ask Dr. Sears advises you can also say, “I love you both in special ways” and back it up with unique qualities of each child. For example, if your eldest child asks this question, you can say, “You are my firstborn, and no one else can be my firstborn child.”

    Richard Weissbourd, a psychologist and senior lecturer in education at the Harvard Graduate School of Education, tells GreatSchools.org, “The counter-response is to say that you love your kids equally, and I actually think that’s a fine response. I think…for young kids, saying that you love your kids equally is something that they can understand.

    “I think as kids get older, you can say, ‘This isn’t the matter of an amount; I love you all very, very much. We do have different kinds of relationships and different kinds of feelings for you because you’re different kinds of people sometimes, but in terms of [the] bottom line, I love you all very much. I could never say I love you more than the other one.’”


    Find out why your child is asking the question in the first place

    If your child asks you which one between her and her sibling you love more, chances are she is feeling insecure and anxious about whether you really love her or not. Dr. Weissbourd tells GreatSchools.org, “Ask, ‘Why are you asking the question, who do you love the most? Is there something you’re concerned about here, or you think [I’m] playing favorites in some ways?’”

    The point is to reflect on what you might be doing or not doing for your child to feel doubtful of your affection. Dr. Weissbourd continues, “I never think that, as parents, we should tell kids who we love the most. First of all, if we love one of our kids more than [the other], that’s something that we really should be reflecting on. That’s a problem in itself.”

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    Provide an illustration

    A great way to respond when your child asks which of your kids you love most is by providing her an illustration. Dr. Jane Nelsen, a licensed marriage, family, and child counselor and author of the Positive Discipline book series, shares a cute example with GreatSchools.org. First, gather four candles of varying heights. Pick one long candle and light it, telling your child, “This is the mommy candle, and this flame represents my love.”

    Take another long candle, which will be called the ‘daddy candle.’ Use the mommy candle to light it and tell your child, “When Daddy and I got married, I gave him my love. Still, I have all my love left.”

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    Next, get a smaller candle to represent your child. Use the mommy candle to light it and say, “When you were born, I gave you my love. Still, Daddy has all my love, and I have all my love left.” Finally, take another smaller candle to represent your child’s sibling. Use the mommy candle to light it and say, “When your sibling was born, I gave him my love. Still, you have all my love, Daddy has all my love, and I have all my love left. That’s the way love is — even if you give it to everyone you love, you’ll still have all of it in you.”

    How to ensure your kids all feel loved

    As much as parents do their best to shower each one of their kids with as much love as they can give, some kids might still feel uncertain about whether their parents care about them. Here are some tips to help you make sure that each of your children feels secure about your love for her.

    Don’t be pressured to treat all your kids equally

    Each of your children has his unique personality and temperament, so how you attend to their needs will differ. Don’t feel that you have to love them in the same way. “The trick is to really have a relationship with each kid that fits the needs of that kid, not exactly the same relationship,” Guy Winch, Ph.D., a psychologist and author of Emotional First Aid: Healing Rejection, Guilt, Failure, and Other Everyday Hurts, tells Fatherly.

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    Prioritize quality over quantity

    One of the best ways to make each child feel special is to spend one-on-one time with them and doing what interests them. For instance, your firstborn may be into sports and playing in the park, while your second child may prefer staying indoors and reading books together.

    Don’t think that just because you spend an hour with one child, you also have to spend an hour with your other child. “It could be that you need an hour with this one, but the other would be cool with 30 minutes because you can do something meaningful in that time,” advises Winch. What matters most is what you do with the time you have!

    Avoid comparing your children with one another

    It can be difficult for parents to avoid making comments like, “Why can’t you be like your older sibling?” because they think this will encourage their child to behave better. However, Ask Dr. Sears says that comparing siblings with one another can cause a child to feel inferior, and it also encourages a sense of rivalry between them.

    Each one of your children has strengths. Just because one child gets high grades in school doesn’t mean she is better than her sibling who may not be as much of an academic achiever. Make sure to praise her for HER accomplishments. As Winch tells Fatherly, “If they can’t compare, they’ll be much more self-contained, and they’ll be doing fine. And you can also be proud and reflect to them that they’re doing fine.”

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