Choosing to have a second child is always a huge decision.
You aren’t going in blind with #2. You KNOW how much work a child is.
But there is one thing you don’t know yet: how your first child will react to the second.
Some children are ECSTATIC about baby #2 coming. It means that they get to be a big brother or sister.
“I have to share mom???”
Yeah. That’s not cool.
This is exactly how my son was. He LOVED his little sister.
For probably about a day.
And then he realized that she wasn’t leaving and he didn’t have me all to himself anymore. That’s when things started to get bad.
So how can you help your child love their brother or sister? How can you prevent, or curb, the sibling jealousy that will take place?
Here are 8 of the BEST tips to handle that sibling rivalry!
1. Give your children lots of individual time.
This is kind of a given, but when you are in the throes of newborn life, it is easy to forget about the needs of your first. You’re exhausted, so I don’t blame you.
So how to give that time? Newborns nap a lot, so when your newborn is napping, ignore the laundry for a few minutes and sit down and read a book! Or you could build a tower, color a picture, play hide and seek, or anything that is giving undivided attention to your little one.
2. Choose the older child first.
This is a hard concept to grasp, and I want to add the caveat that this is for non life-or-death situations.
If both of your kids are wanting attention, choose the older one first over your newborn. The newborn won’t remember that it took you an extra 2 minutes to feed him, but your 3 year old will notice when he is never “picked.”
The feelings of your toddler and preschooler are a huge mess when a new sibling arrives, just like for you. Except, all they really know is that they got you 100% of the time, and now…they don’t.
Make a special effort to ensure that they know how loved they are by you.
3. Make things fair.
Now that my children are 3 and 17 months, we don’t have the same difficulties that a newborn presented, but we do have new ones.
My daughter is at the age where she is experimenting with hitting and saying “no” constantly. Well, since she is the second child, it’s easy for me to say, “ah, it is a phase, and she’s not actually hurting her brother.”
But view that from a 3 year old’s perspective.
“My sister is allowed to talk back to mom and hit me, but I’m not allowed to. That’s not fair.”
So I have to make sure that my daughter gets treated the same way. We do short time outs when she starts hitting, and I am firm (yet loving) when she says “no” to certain requests that I make.
That helps my son to love her more and decrease the sibling jealousy since she isn’t getting special treatment just because she’s younger.
4. Spend quality time together.
Just like individual time is important, so is quality time all together. Encouraging your kids to play with one another with you around is just as important. You can’t always give kids one-on-one time, but it can still be tons of fun to play with both children at the same time!
Find games that they’ll both enjoy, and play them with them! My kids love freeze dance. And I dance with them! It is a blast, and my kiddos love being with me, and each other, when we play those games.
They also love being “nature detectives” together. We will go on walks and try to find snails and lizards (and other weird stuff), and they get to help each other. It works wonders for their relationship!
5. Encourage teaching moments.
My son loves to teach his little sister new things. It makes him feel important and smart, and it makes my daughter feel loved since her brother is taking the time to teach her.
I encourage him by saying, “Forest, can you teach your sister what color this is?” “Forest, can you tell Felicity what letter this is?”
He jumps at the chance to teach something that he loves!
6. Teach taking turns and sharing.
I have said many times how much I love Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood. We use the song, “you can take a turn, and then I’ll get it back” ALL. THE. TIME.
Since isn’t it always the case that no one wants a toy until the other has it? I work really hard to teach sharing, and then taking turns, any chance I can.
I then enforce reasonable time limits too. I won’t let my daughter play with the same toy for 10 minutes just because she wants it. I make it reasonable for their ages. 1-2 minutes with a toy, then make a trade.
Is it 100% effective? No. But what is with toddlers and preschoolers? But it really works, especially for my 3 year old, since cognitively, he can understand the concept of taking turns.
But like I said, I am fair. If he had the toy first, I let him play with it first. I don’t just give it to my daughter since she is younger.
7. Teach the importance of space.
Being around your siblings too much can wear anyone out, especially a young child.
I am trying to teach both of my kids to respect each other’s space. Sometimes they love hugging, other times it’s hitting. And I never force one to accept a hug from the other if they don’t want it. That’s not a real world thing. They need to be able to respect, and understand space.
Even if kids don’t have their own rooms, space can still be taught. And more often than not, a little space will go a long way in regards to how your kids feel about each other.
So there you have it! Let me know how these tips work, and tell me. What has worked best for fostering love and handling sibling jealousy between your kids? And if you’re having time getting things done with young children, make sure to check out this post!
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