Ah! Sibling rivalry! It all begins the moment your second born is welcomed home from the hospital with balloons, gifts and a chorus of admiration –“what an adorable baby!” Off in the corner moping is the self proclaimed king or queen of the castle, watching as his home is taken over by bottles and bouncers, while he becomes demoted from the highly received title of “only child.” Whats more, the baby will inevitably begin crawling (and snatching) and the once king of the castle will be told – not asked – to share everything from toys to mommy and daddy’s attention. Considering the jealous and territorial nature of children, keeping the peace between siblings is certainly a daunting task but not an impossible one, if one masters some strategies to keep sibling squabbles to a minimum. I want to share five tips that have worked well for me over the years in parenting and I hope they’ll be helpful to you too.
Tip #1. Never Show Favorites
There are bound to be days when the baby is absolutely irresistible with chubby thighs and chunky cheeks. Go ahead and love that baby like crazy, but be certain to point out the accomplishments and cuteness of your oldest as well. Never take one of your children for granted, or it will spark sibling rivalry and competition on who is the favorite.
Tip #2. Try Not to Referee
If every time there’s a little conﬂict, you jump in to judge who’s right and wrong, your children will never learn how to resolve issues on their own. Whats more, one child will become the winner, while the other feels like the loser. Instead, try letting your children work out disagreements on their own. You may realize that you might have been a tad too whistle-happy.
Tip #3. Give Individual Attention
Spend quality time with each child individually. Your children will likely get used to sharing toys and bedrooms, but it will never get easier to share you. Try setting date-nights once a month with each child separately. Let them choose the activity, and vow to engage, unplug and be 100% present with any electronics in sight.
Tip #4. Encourage Teamwork
Identify activities that require them to work together. They can build forts, play catch or create art. Whatever they choose, acknowledge their team effort. They need to know that friends will come and go, but family is permanent. They are stuck with one another for ever as family. Sure, they may not want to face it now, but someday, not long from now, they will be best friends. So, they might as well deal with it.
Tip #5. Use Positive Reinforcement
Spy on them if you have to, but be certain to ﬁnd moments when your children are getting along well and praise them for it. Make sure you notice their sharing, and cheer on their teamwork. Children not only want to please you, but they also crave your attention. If they can accomplish both by working well with one another, they will likely repeat the good behavior.