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Dealing With Sibling Rivalry

You cannot understand your daughter’s behaviour. When you brought her new baby brother home from the hospital, she was thrilled. Now, after two years, she seems to absolutely loathe him. She tries to distract you whenever you are busy with him and starts crying when you pick him up. This is a classic case of sibling rivalry.

How to deal with sibling rivalry

Older children often feel threatened by a new brother or sister because the new baby seems to get all the attention. Here are ways in which parents can deal with this problem:

  • Let children know that violence is unacceptable and that it will not be tolerated in your home. Make sure that small children understand that hurting someone is wrong. When explaining this to them, use words they understand
  • Never compare your children with one another when they are together. They will only feel more threatened by the other child and the fighting will get worse
  • Don’t punish one child in front of the other
  • Take the older child on regular outings. Leave the younger child with someone you trust
  • Make the older child understand how helpful he or she is by saying something such as: ‘You are so grown up, mommy really appreciates your help with the baby’
  • Give older children a sense of importance about the role they play in the younger child’s life
  • Let the older child help you with the younger child. For example, allow him or her to help you prepare the younger child’s bottle, but don’t interrupt important play activities
  • Encourage your children to play together and stress the importance of siblings helping each other, rather than only the oldest child helping the youngest child. Your oldest child will be less likely to develop a need to be superior over other children
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