Having a brother or sister is an incredible gift. Always having someone to play with, someone who has your back when you are out on the playground, someone to share the blame with or to put the blame on. However, with all of those glorious benefits comes the risk of varying levels of the dreaded sibling rivalry.
Will they grow out of it? Probably, but it can make life pretty miserable for all concerned so best to try these tips to keep your kids in the same camp.
Share your time
Your attention is most likely what they are competing for, so make sure to share yourself around. Yes, it is easier said than done as your younger children probably require more of your time. To even the spread, try and make some special time for the older ones where it is just you and them. This also goes for affection, little ones get a lot of hugs and kisses (because they are adorable and so they should) and older kids can get jealous of your closeness. So throw out hugs and kisses and hair scruffs and belly tickles as much as possible so everyone feels the love (to your children, not the general public).
Please, please do not compare your children's milestones. Every child has different strengths and challenges. No child will be encouraged by being told that their brother could ride a bike when he was younger than them, or that their sister can draw in the lines even though she is just five and they are seven. It doesn’t work, it just makes them feel bad and worse than that it creates a competitive environment. Not good.
Routines and Timeframes
Setting a clear routine can help with the inevitable “it's my turn” argument, which has plagued siblings for eternity. Sharing a game or toy? Bring out the timer. Each child has the same amount of time and they can see it happening. One child goes first, make sure the other one is first next time. Trust me they will remember if it is their turn to go first. Set a routine for things that cause issues. If they can't share a sink to brush their teeth. Child one has the bathroom from 6.30 to 6.45, child two has it from 6.45-7.00. It helps to write the schedule down and put it up on the fridge for future disputes.
Praise and Encouragement
Sometimes they will (possibly accidentally) be playing nicely together and sharing well. When they do, make sure you praise them both like they are the best kids in the world (which is how you will probably feel anyway). Encourage them to take turns and make a big deal when one finally unfurls their kung fu grip from the Xbox controller to give it to the other. Remember it is mostly your praise and attention they are fighting for.
When all else fails, your children are screaming at each other and you think they will never get along. Remember that soon they will be teenagers and their concern for your attention will be near non-existent. They might even band together over the shared feeling that you are now totally embarrassing. So don’t worry too much.
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