Sibling rivalry can begin the moment you bring home a new baby and an older child starts to wonder: Who is going to get the most attention now?
It’s a normal reaction, say experts, and how you deal with sibling rivalry over the years will have a long-term effect on your children’s relationships with one another.
Different, but equal
To help a new baby get started on the right foot, be sure to talk with older siblings beforehand about what to expect. Give them jobs to do, such as handing off diapers and wipes or reading to the new baby, and reassure them that they haven’t been replaced.
It’s important to stress to each child that they have their own strengths and that they shouldn’t compare themselves to each other.
It’s inevitable that siblings will bicker, but one way to help stop fights before they start is to make sure you’re spending quality time alone with each child.
“Sometimes families feel like they have to share everything all together, but time reading a favorite book or doing a special activity specifically with one child can really help make them feel important,” she says.
Try reading a favorite book or doing a special activity with one child to make them feel important. You can also give children separate chores to do so they feel as if they play a unique role in the family.
Know when to step back
Don’t forget, though, that sibling relationships do not completely center on you. As kids get older, they need to figure out how to deal with one another without your intervention.
Allow your kids to develop their problem-solving skills by dealing with their problems. Parents should avoid taking sides or rewarding tattling.