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“Mom, can we send him back?” Many a sibling greets the newborn baby with such words. Jealousy among siblings often starts right after birth. The four-year-olds don’t understand why they suddenly have to share daddy and why mommy doesn’t just cuddle with them anymore. To counteract jealousy among siblings early on, parents should take their children’s feelings seriously and prepare them for the new sibling early on. Nevertheless, jealousy is a problem that often cannot be completely avoided and that haunts siblings into adulthood.
How To Prepare Your Child For The New Baby At An Early Stage
Already during pregnancy, parents should prepare their child for the new baby. It is important that children learn the news personally from their parents rather than from third parties. The news can be conveyed, for example, with the help of picture books in which the birth is explained in a child-friendly way. A baby doll or the younger children of friends can help the toddler prepare for a sibling.
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Jealousy Among Siblings Sets In After Birth
During pregnancy, children are usually still looking forward to their new playmate or the little baby they can mother. But at the latest when their mother breastfeeds the younger sibling instead of playing with them, jealousy awakens – often accompanied by aggression.
Counteracting Jealousy Among Siblings At A Young Age
Reinforce The Child’s Value
Children misunderstand the amount of attention their mother gives the baby and think they are now less loved. In this case, it is advisable to explain to the sibling, even before the baby is born, that babies are still much more helpless and need more attention. Sentences such as “You’ve already grown up so much, you don’t even need that anymore.” or “You can just do a lot yourself already.” reinforce the child’s own value. Photos of themselves as a toddler can also help to convey that they themselves were once just as needy.
Spend Time Alone With Each Child
Both in infancy and growing up, it is important to give children attention one on one. As a parent, you should occasionally take time alone with your children, do something special, play together, or later, just talk with him or her. This strengthens the personal bond between you and at the same time makes the child feel valued and recognized as an individual.
Involve The Sibling In The Care
Once the new sibling has moved in at home, jealousy between siblings can be avoided by involving the older child in the care. In this way, he or she learns directly to take responsibility for his or her sibling and also understands why the baby needs more attention.
What To Do About Boredom During Breastfeeding?
The older child can also watch while breastfeeding, but this leads to boredom and impatience after a short time. Employment ideas for the child during breastfeeding are:
⦁ Listening to audio games
⦁ Preparing something to eat
With all these things, your child does not need a playmate and does not feel left alone. Indeed, breastfeeding often seems like half an eternity to jealous children. Nevertheless, if your child likes to watch, you should not exclude him from breastfeeding.
Why Does Jealousy Still Occur Between Siblings Even After The First Few Years?
Even if the little sibling has grown up to be a good playmate, jealousy among siblings still occurs quickly. Again, the cause can be traced back to attention from parents. Throughout their lives, children compete for the attention of their parents, and if they feel that their sibling is being favored over them, this hurts them. So jealousy does not mean that their children can’t stand each other, but that they simply feel disadvantaged. They often provoke an argument to find out whose side the parents are on.
How Do I React As A Parent In A Dispute Situation?
Punishment Leads To A Vicious Circle
Hands off punishment and reprimanding an individual child. As a parent, you usually don’t get to see the beginning of an argument, only its escalation. Admonishing words lead to a child feeling unjustly blamed and less valued. At the same time, you falsely convey to the other sibling that they will receive recognition by provoking an argument. Thus, punishment virtually encourages the outbreak of a new quarrel and increases jealousy among siblings. But what then is the right way? Should parents refrain from any intervention?
Act As A Mediator
Tears, bumps and broken toys: when the argument between toddlers escalates, it is usually almost impossible not to intervene. In addition, as parents, it is your pedagogical task to teach children at an early age how to deal with an argument situation. Therefore, do not take sides, but convey to both parties that they have made a mistake. Sentences like “I don’t want you to break your brother’s excavator again. Still, it’s not right, Tim, if you then hit them. You both contributed to the argument.” show kids that it takes two to make an argument.
It is important that you show the children how they can avoid conflicts at an early stage. However, anger is a normal feeling, especially in children, and suppressing it is not the right way. Instead, show the siblings alternatives for expressing their anger. For example, instead of crushing little brother’s backhoe, an anger ball, a punching bag, or even just exercise provide a way to let out a child’s aggression and pent-up energy. This way, kids understand early on: anger is nothing to be ashamed of, as long as you handle it properly.
Give Them Space For Themselves
Give kids a space to themselves. Possibilities here for can be signs on their own room door proclaiming, “Siblings forbidden” or “Stop. Please knock.” This gives little ones a place to retreat from siblings during tantrums. It also teaches them to appreciate that they are an individual and are entitled to privacy.
Despite all the pedagogy, fights between children are inevitable. To quench the tears and put an end to the nasty name-calling, comfort and love is considered a miracle cure. When your kids start sobbing “Tom just hit me.” or shouting at the top of their lungs “It was Lisa’s fault. She’s always teasing me.” then open arms and loving words are usually the best way to do justice to both siblings. By comforting both of them, you show that you take their anger seriously and get the jealousy out of the way at the same time.
Can Jealousy Among Siblings Be Avoided At All In The Long Run?
Whether it’s school, friends or hobbies, children are constantly comparing themselves with each other. Especially when the age difference between them is less than three years and they are the same gender, questions float through their minds like, “Why is my brother much more popular than me?” or, “Does she get more pocket money because she’s better at school than me?” Even though in most cases jealousy among siblings cannot be completely avoided, there are ways to counteract it….
Solution: Strengthen Sibling Love
The answer lies in strengthening the bond between the two siblings. Show your children that their brother or sister can be not only a good argument partner, but also their best friend. Especially during adolescence, it can be important for youngsters to have someone to talk to within the family besides their parents. Feel free to allow siblings to sometimes form an alliance against you: That way, they become appreciative allies rather than enemies.
Sounds all well and good, but how do you put it into practice?
Don’t Compare Children With Each Other
“Why can’t you do your homework for a change, like your brother?” Such questions should be absolutely taboo in parenting. Comparisons between siblings stir up jealousy and give children the feeling that they have to outdo the other. The goal for them is then no longer to master something in the best possible way, but to always have to be better than the sibling. This puts enormous pressure on children and usually contributes to a deterioration in their performance.
Point Out The Child’s Strengths
Instead, point out to children their personal talents. Make it clear to them, “Yes, your sister is just better at school, but you’re a real jock for it.” Explain to your children that everyone has their strengths and weaknesses. Examples from your immediate environment can be helpful here, such as “Mom may sing better than Dad, but Dad can cook better food.” In this way, children learn to pursue their own interests and value their talents at an early age.
In general, you should not forget to praise your children individually. In this way, they understand that they are personally valued by you as parents and are not constantly in the shadow of their siblings.
Nevertheless, you should make sure to praise your children together. This way, you will strengthen the bond between them and at the same time ensure that they develop a sense of team. They understand: I have many strengths, but when I work with someone else, I can accomplish much more.
Whether individually or together, when you praise your children, stay honest with them. They can sense when the praise is not sincere. To get your message across properly, concrete statements help. Explain to them why the picture you drew is so beautiful or what you liked about the story you wrote yourself.
Encourage Sibling Activities
Climbing trees, playing Playmobile, making the neighborhood unsafe – joint activities show children that, in the end, everything is more fun when there are two of you. Encourage your kids to play together at an early age. Keep out of the siblings’ games, though, so there’s no vying for their parents’ attention.
If they have trouble playing together at first, make suggestions and point out what they have in common. Rituals, like listening to an audiobook in the afternoon or sharing a bedtime story, can also bond your kids.
And If Jealousy Does Arise Between Siblings?
Of course, it’s still easy for your kids to start comparing themselves to their siblings in times of disappointment or feelings of inferiority. If you notice this jealousy or if the children even come to you with these feelings, there are several things you should consider:
⦁ Take your children seriously – Listen to their problems and try to understand them. That way, the little ones will feel understood.
⦁ Observe yourselves – Was there possibly a specific trigger for the jealousy? Did you perhaps inadvertently put a child at a disadvantage or were there situations that conveyed to him that he had done something wrong?
⦁ Take your time – Again, do something alone with your child. Jealousy is a cry for help out of fear of being overlooked by parents. With a joint mother-daughter day or similar, you show that you are always there for the child personally.