Coping With Sibling Rivalry

Bringing home a new baby is a joyous time in any parent’s life, but it can also prove stressful if you already have an older child competing for your attention. More often than not, what most parents thought would be a time of bonding turns into one of constantly reassuring a jealous toddler that they’re just as important as the new arrival.

A step backwards Is your toddler suddenly wanting to nurse again or suddenly more interested in getting their nappy changed? It’s not uncommon for an older child to regress or modify their behaviour in reaction to the new arrival. The key is to remain patient and not make the toddler feel as if any disruption is their fault.

Celebrate your toddler It’s probably the last thing you have energy for, but giving your older child more attention will make a big difference. Right now, your toddler may see the baby as being the centre of everything. It’s important to show them that, while their role is changing, they have not been replaced and are just as loved as before. Make them feel special.

A helping hand This is a time of change for everyone in the household, so ask for help when you need it. When friends and family offer to help or babysit, accept, so you can put that time to good use with your toddler. It’s not a good idea to let someone look after the older child all the time, as this can make an older child feel neglected. Don’t forget to ask the older child for help, too, so they feel important. They may not always do the best job but it’s a good way to teach responsibility in the early years. Picking out new clothes or toys for the baby is something you can do together.

Sibling rivalry in the later years As your children grow, they will argue over a huge variety of things, such as toys, treats and chores. That doesn’t mean they love each other any less. Usually, they’re just upset or angry. The best advice, as these issues arise, is not to compare one child with another and not to take sides. Some parents believe that children should learn to resolve their issues themselves. However, any physical violence should be dealt with immediately.

When it comes to bringing home a new baby, every child will react and adjust differently. The individual circumstances of each family will have a huge impact on the best way to adapt to the change. In the end, it’s up to your to find out what works best for your family, but the basics are always the same.

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