If you have more than one child, you will surely know what sibling rivalry is. As they say, a parent is many a time a part-time referee. Sibling rivalry in its varying degrees has long-term effects based on the approach taken by parents to resolve it. If you have children who are close to each other in age, you will face a lot of battles due to their similar needs and tendency to compete with each other. If your first one is older by a few years, you will face issues ranging from anger for the new-born to a steadfast rejection of all the little one’s attempts at being friends. Here are some ways to handle this rivalry positively and make sure you do everything to foster a close bond between your children.
1. Prepare your older child
Before the birth of your younger baby, get the older child accustomed to the idea of a sibling. Point out all the positives about having a sibling. Let your child travel through the journey leading up to the birth of your little one by patting your growing belly, feeling the kicks and seeing the ultrasound images. Such actions will slowly ease the idea of a new person in the family into their mind. Try to help your baby relate to the little one by going over the old pictures of your baby just after birth. Discuss what all you used to do for them so that they are comfortable with you doing the same things for the new-born. Allow your baby to take part in the shopping for the little one, discuss names with them and talk about what all a new baby might need. When they see you caring for the little one, it won’t all come as a surprise and your baby will also rest assured that they also received the same care when they were born.
Keep a few gifts to give your older one when visitors come to see the younger one. Assign the task of opening presents to your older child to keep them excited and tell them they will teach the baby to use all the toys. Such words will make your older one feel important and needed. When you have set the stage to address such feelings, the amount of rivalry they may feel will be as less as possible.
2.Never compare kids
Don’t ever compare children in their presence or absence. Every child is unique and different. Don’t launch into how the new-born looks different from your older one. If visitors talk about it, gently change the subject. Try to give your older one sometime in the limelight by talking about how excited they are about the sibling. Most older children suffer from lack of attention especially when the younger kid is just born. As they grow older, accept that your two children’s needs are different. When you compare two children, you unknowing pit them against each other. This is never a good idea if you want plenty of harmony between the siblings.
3.Spend time with your older one regularly
When your little one is just born, they don’t need too much time from you except to fulfill their basic needs like food, potty cleaning etc. So use this time to spend extra time with your older sibling so that they do not view the entry of the little one into the family negatively. Show your older child how much the little one looks at him and pamper his ego by saying that the baby hero-worships them. The good thing is all babies love children and your baby will definitely not take his or her eyes off their sibling.
4.Teach them to collaborate
When your little one is young, you can assign some tasks to your older child to make them feel important. Like keeping the diaper drawer filled with fresh diapers. Or making sure you pack the toys while heading out. Choose a task that seems to interest them and offer plenty of positive encouragement when they help you.
If your children are older, assign tasks for them together where they will have to collaborate. Plan an activity like baking a cake where an older one might measure ingredients while the younger one might do the mixing.
When a common chore around the house needs completion, offer your children incentives to do it together. Like, tell them to clear out the trash together following which they can both eat an ice-cream
5.Pick your battles
Children usually sort out their squabbles over time. Don’t jump to the defense of any of your kids when you see them fighting unless they are doing something dangerous. They will definitely sort it out based on their individual equations with each other. When you try to tell them what to do, you might end up making one of them angry with the other because they believe you supported them.
As they grow older, you can even set a time limit for them. Simply tell them that you will be back in a few minutes and that you expect them to sort it out by then. Also, mention what you will do if they don’t sort it out. For example, if your children are fighting for the iPad, tell them you will take it from both of them if they don’t stop fighting in the next five minutes. So now, instead of each other, they become a team that needs to prevent the IPad from being taken away. Like all teams with a common goal, they will eventually get together against you. Smile and walk away. Your job is done, at least for the time being.
It is said that our relationships with our siblings are the longest relationships we have through our lives. With some well thought out strategies from you, your children will definitely develop bonds that will help them weather all life’s storms.
Also, check: How to Create a Positive Home Environment