Managing Sibling Rivalry

Sibling_rivalry_240x192Managing Sibling Rivalry

If you are lucky enough to be expecting a new baby, you will have thought about how to prepare your little one for the new member of the family.

The obvious suggestions: reassuring the older child that they won’t be left out, buying a present from the baby for the older child and making time for 1:1 with your little one away from the baby are all helpful and worth doing. But, I believe there is more to think about to ease the transition from 3 to 4
(or more).

First all of all, imagine yourself in their position…. Your partner comes home one day and announces that because he or she loves you so much, they have decided that it would be lovely to get another one of you to move in. What’s more you are so lucky because you are going to love this new person and play with them and everyone else is so excited about it too.
This new addition to your family will be a companion to you and you’re going to share everything with them! And then when the time arrives, all the relatives and visitors make a huge fuss of the newest addition and you feel completely ignored and probably unloved.

If you think about this way, you might feel more relaxed about the time it takes for your child to accept the new baby. Very often, your child might show no outward aggression or resentment towards the baby, it is more likely that they will direct their confusion and frustration towards you, the person they feel safest with. If you see a regression in their behaviour (reverting to baby talk, wetting themselves etc.), just accept that it is a natural reaction and while not indulging it, be patient and let it go. Ask other adults to pay it no attention also. If the behaviour is more extreme, hitting, shouting, refusing to stay in their bed or eat properly then I would certainly address this straight away and not allow it escalate. This type of behaviour is a cry for attention and your little one needs you to put in boundaries
so that they feel more secure (that even though everything else in their life seems to have turned upside down, the expectations that you had before still exist and this house is not a state of anarchy!)

I would not recommend making any big changes in the 3-4 weeks leading up to a new arrival, so hold off with potty training, a big bed, dropping a dummy or bottles, new nursery etc., if you possibly can. If this cannot be avoided then accept that you may have to be more patient if they regress.

Top Tips:

  • Try to ask visitors tactfully in advance to greet your child first and ignore the baby
    when they first come to see you. There’s a whole lifetime ahead to get to know the
    baby who quite honestly couldn’t care less right now!
  • When the baby is asleep, try to spare 15 mins of your time for 1:1 attention, at least 3
    times a day if you possibly can.
  • Offer your child the opportunity to do things for the baby, but don’t push it.

Save certain treats for when you need to feed the baby, that are not available any other time
(e.g. flavoured milk and a special biscuit, favourite programme on your ipad, a dummy that is
usually only allowed at bedtime…..) You may need to remove these in advance of the baby’s
arrival so that they become ‘special treats’.

Just remember, it is all worth it in the end, and one day they will thank you that there is
someone else in the world who knows exactly what it is like to have you as their parents!

Nicola Cormack

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Nicola Cormack - Little Chicken Parenting

I am a mother to 4 children so I really understand how important it is to find solutions that work for you. I also have over 30 years experience working with children and their families. I have worked within the NHS (health visitors and post-natal delivery ward), local council (parenting intervention project) and in the private sector, where I set up and ran a day nursery in West London for 9 years.

I have a Masters degree in Psychology from the University of Surrey (2007) and a City and Guilds Level 4 award in Work with Parents-supporting families with complex needs (2011).

Although sleep-training is my speciality, I am able to offer you advice and help with all behavioural issues.

View my other posts

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