It’s everywhere!! The competition for attention, affection, and approval of parents, teachers and elders!! Even siblings are not exceptions here! Sibling Rivalry is a great cause of concern for many parents.
So a parent might be tempted to ask, is there anything we can do to help these children and make them bond better?? Reduce our own stress in the flow as well 😀
Let’s first understand why this happens, n let’s do that through a child’s point of view:
Causes of Sibling Rivalry:
- Inadequate attention: The most common reason for sibling rivalry is the child feeling neglected, ignored or unattended. It’s mostly the case when a new baby arrives and focus shifts to the younger one. The child feels threatened by the arrival of a new baby.
- Parent’s reaction to conflict:
“My mom and dad are always taking the side of the baby!!”
“My mom always punishes me even if I make a small mistake but loves the baby in spite of him being so noisy all the time”
“My grandpa tells me to be a good boy always! Why can’t I shout a tiny bit?”
Do we see a pattern here? Parents’ expectations of the elder one always behaving nicely with the baby does not leave any room for the mistakes of the older child. The child feels wronged because people are concerned about the baby more than himself. And as much as we consider that child grown, he most probably is still a child himself.
- Special child in a family:
Having a special child in a family is a big challenge for parents and children alike. Special children need more attention, more understanding, more adjustments and more time!! They simply need more of our efforts! While we, as adults, adjust to such situations and adapt, young children might take a while to understand and adjust.
- Not enough family time:
Jobs, relatives, commitments, problems... A nuclear family struggles a lot. Lack of enough bonding time with children makes things more difficult. N worse becomes the case when they have to share that “Insufficient time with Mom” with the newly arrived sibling.
- Lack of bonding between siblings:
The animosity among siblings is greatly affected by the age difference, the amount of time they spend together and the bonding between them. Greater the bonding, the lesser the chances of them being rivals.
Now let’s see how we can help the children bond better and get rid of that animosity.
- Friends before birth:
Help the children become friends even before the baby has arrived. Talk to the older one about the baby and the changes about to come. Prepare them for the change. Help them talk to each other.
“Do you feel the kick?”
“Do you see him move?”
“Do you want to have a new friend?”
“What should we name the baby?”
Involve the older one in preparations for the baby. Reassure them that even after the arrival of the baby, you will still love them as you do now if not more! The older child should feel the positivity around the new arrival and not the anxiety for the unknown.
- Gifts for both:
Whenever you are buying things for new baby, make sure to buy a small gift for the older one as well. He will truly appreciate the gesture. Also talk to him about the possibility of other people coming with a single gift and assure him that he may share it with the baby.
- Family time:
Turn your daily routine to include family time for all. Turn the bath time on weekends for all children to have bubble bath together. Make it a habit to have meals together. Plan activities that encourage enough family time eg. Picnics, swimming, exercise, etc.
- Special time for the older one:
Make special efforts to spend time with the older one. Your time is the most effective reassurance that shows them that you care! Plan few minutes every day with older child alone. Reading a bedtime story, Morning cuddles, Bath times. Let these be uninterrupted times with the older child.
- Big Bro / Sis in charge:
Let the younger one be a shared responsibility. Children love being able to take control. Allow the older one to entertain them, comfort them, teach them, play with them, work with them, and finish tasks together. Help them accomplish things together. Let them sleep together. You sit back and observe. Supervise and help if the need be. Don’t ever leave them unattended though!
- Set limits:
As much as it’s important to allow children to just be themselves, it’s also important to set limits. Do not allow hitting, screaming, aggressiveness. Help children to identify discomfort of others. Help them understand when to stop. Turn simple squabbles in humour but do not allow belittling and teasing beyond comfort of any of the children.
- Don’t compare:
Most importantly, don’t compare. Each child is different. Celebrate that individuality and allow time for them to do things at their own speed. Refrain from being a referee and do not take sides as far as possible. Get involved when its necessary but allow them to resolve their conflicts themselves.