Preparing for Siblings
Relationships among siblings are most often the longest relationships a person has in life. From early on, they play a crucial role in a child's development. Siblings are often children's first playmates and competition.
When expecting a new sibling
Young children can have an exceptionally hard time adjusting to the arrival of a new baby. As they probably should; their world is now drastically different now that they have to share you with someone else. Here are some tips to minimize any conflict:
- Talk to your child about the new arrival. Prepare her well in advance.
- Look at books and pictures of infants.
- Involve the toddler preschooler as much as possible in daily activities.
- Facilitate ways where the older sibling can "help" and care for the baby.
- Create opportunities for one-on-one time for you and her.
- During times when she is unable to help, provide books, toys, etc., to distract her so she does not feel neglected.
- Talk about feelings with the older sibling when she misbehaves.
- Be patient! Usually most jealousy will subside after a few months.
Nearly all sibling relationships are extremely positive and have far-reaching benefits. However, it is not unusual for siblings to not get along; sibling rivalry is a natural part of family dynamics. Brothers and sisters fight for parent attention, compete against each other, and can be jealous of one another. And all of these in small doses can be good. Learning how to resolve conflict and efforts to work a little harder are skills where siblings benefit. Too much fighting is not good for anyone and negatively affects the entire family.
There are small things you can do to minimize arguments among siblings:
- Do not play favorites.
- Praise each child for his/her individual uniqueness, accomplishments, etc.
- Do not compare siblings to one another.
- Listen to your child.
- Create environments for cooperation, not competition.
- Don't label your children. Address individual behaviors without applying a characteristic to the child.
- Make note of the physical environment around the fighting. Is it before naptime? During free play? Changing a routine may reduce some of the conflict.
- Be fair.
- Create fun family activities. Families that enjoy time with each other are less likely to have a lot of fighting.
- Look for stressors in a sibling's life that are leading to increased conflict.
- Examine what stressors that you as a parent might have and how might those be affecting the family dynamics.
- Promote positive ways for your children to elicit attention from siblings, parents, etc.
- Set aside individual attention for each child. Remind them of why they are special.
- Facilitate conflict between siblings. Let them try to resolve it in a safe and healthy way. Intervene if there is violence or someone is getting bullied.
- Help think of compromises or win-win situations in conflict resolution.