Encountering moments of sibling rivalry, jealousy and arguments can be difficult for mums and dads raising more than one child. But don’t worry, it is natural for this to happen and you do have the power to minimize these situations and help your kids build strong personalities of their own as well as good relationships with each other. Nothing is impossible and with these parenting tips, you should be able to make the situation better.
Prepare your child for the newborn
Even before a younger child is born, mums and dads can start preparing your older kids for the arrival of the new family member. Try to spend time explaining what will happen so that your child has a better understanding of the changes to come. You can do this by talking about times when the older kid was a baby in mommy’s tummy, showing pictures of them when they were babies or sharing some interesting stories from that time. This way, your child will not be shocked with how much work a baby requires and they will find fun in spotting differences and similarities between their and the new sibling’s behavior according to your stories.
Ask your older child for help
When the new baby comes, there will be a lot of work to do. Try not to do everything alone as this will push your older child away. Instead, give them tasks and responsibility in doing some simple chores so that they feel important and stay aware that they are an irreplaceable part of the family. When they experience baby care first hand they will find it easier to comprehend why you are busy and also try to spend more time with their small sibling. This may start out as a desire to help you but in time a strong bond will develop between the children.
Take time to listen to both sides
As they grow up, some disputes and quarrels are bound to happen between the siblings. This is the time to keep a cool head as a parent and listen to both sides carefully. By giving them the same right to speak for themselves children will realize that they are equally important to you. Therefore, even if you cannot be completely fair in some situations do not fret about it. As long as you are able to approach the subject with calmness and tolerance and explain why someone might have done something wrong you will be able to make the child understand consequences of his/her actions. When some kind of lecture is necessary, make sure that you face your child properly, as someone who is able to learn and comprehend what you are talking about without resorting to yelling and punishments.
If your older child is still a toddler it is essential to think about not making him/her feel less important. For example, when baby gifts start coming make sure that you have some presents prepared for your toddler as well. Moreover, you can have them open up the baby gifts and give them to their younger sibling. Being able to see a happy baby face will encourage empathy and desire to keep making their little brother or sister happy through growing up. What’s more, with your older child still being small do not try to make a distinction between the siblings by forcing them to pick different stuff for themselves because they do not have the concept of individuality in early years. Therefore, it would be wise to get the same baby blankets, sheets, linens and other things for everyone.
As long as you remember that your children can be different and express their own unique personalities and interests when they are old enough, you will be able to transfer this knowledge and enforce their own confidence and self-respect. When siblings do not feel threatened and are aware that you respect their choices even when they differ, they are bound to nurture their own relationship and become great adults.
About the author
Gabriella Diesendorf is a devoted mother and freelance writer from Australia who specializes in writing about parenting techniques and attachment parenting.