Parental Do’s and Don’t’s For Sibling Rivalry
- Do tell your other children about the new baby as soon as you make the news public.
- Don’t tell your child the baby is growing in mom’s tummy. It is confusing, since stomachs are associated with eating and elimination.
- Do prepare your child by making a homemade book about the pregnancy and birth.
- Do keep your older child’s needs in mind when you bring home a newborn; for example, before you sit down to feed the baby, give your child a bag with a snack, a drink, and an activity to show him you are aware that he needs attention.
- Do allow for the expression of your child’s natural feelings of jealousy and anger by helping them label those feelings and figuring out a way to feel better.
- Don’t tell your children that they must love each other. Telling them doesn’t help. Giving them tools to deal with jealousy and competition allows the love to grow.
- Don’t compare your children (e.g., “your brother always cleans his room. Focus on each child’s unique qualities, not how they stack up against each other.
- Do use descriptive language when you see your children fighting (e.g., “I see that you want to watch different videos. I know you an figure out a way that you both get a turn”).
- Don’t allow tattling in your house (e.g., “I won’t listen to you talk about your sister, BUT I will be glad to listen to anything you want to tell me about yourself”).
- Do remember that while sibling rivalry is inevitable, it does not have to last a lifetime. Your child’s siblings will be the longest lasting relationships in their lives, and parents can help make it them loving ones.
For more on sibling rivalry, visit ParentTalk’s two-part series on the subject. Listen here and here.