Today’s guest post is from my super intelligent pal Dr. Sash who you might already know from her blog, From the Left Field.
Super smart lady this one. She knows her business!
My little man Ari is currently dealing (fairly well) with an invasion on his turf. This little Sister everyone has been on about has finally arrived and you can see his mind in overdrive.
Sasha is talking all things sibling rivalry and her tips for a calmer transition.
Ahhhh siblings. Is there nothing sweeter in the world than the bond between siblings? The sharing, cuddles, laughter. Bliss. Or something like that, right? Then you come out of your wine induced stupor to hear
He’s teasing me!!
Go away you moron!
I hate you!
And you decide to go hide in the cupboard with a fresh bottle of wine and as much chocolate as you can humanly consume. Who’s idea was it to have multiple children??
When you have your first bub and are planning to have more, you dream of the love that a sibling will bring them. But then the sibling arrives and sometimes it can be an entirely different story. Your child has already metaphorically peed on you and established their territory (or could be literally. It happens), then suddenly they have to share. With an alien. A squishy, pink alien that initially just cries, eats and stares at you with googly eyes.
There are a ton of reasons why sibling rivalry occurs. Good old fashioned jealousy, difficulties in adjusting, difference in ages between kids (and thus a lack of understanding), having less dedicated time with Mum and Dad, temperament and personality factors. Trying to get to the bottom of it is important. When you know the why, you can then work out the how in order to manage it. Also, by understanding why, sometimes it can take a little bit of the frustration away. Just a teeny tiny bit. Because refereeing sibling fights and meltdowns sucks the big one.
Here are some quick tips that might help quell the green-eyed monster in your little ones:
- Where possible, try to ensure one-on-one time with each child. Doesn’t have to be hours on end, it could only be 10 minutes here and there. It’s about the quality, not the quantity. Just so each child has that time out, can reconnect with parents/carers sans siblings. And it’s good for parents too!
- For the older sibling, if a newborn is entering the home, try and have a special chat about the fact that the baby might need a bit of help settling in, and that the older sibling can be your special helper. It’s just a way to try and prepare them for the fact that your attention is going to be diverted a little, but they’re still recognised and included.
- Older siblings have this knack for suddenly rediscovering a love as deep as the ocean for baby toys they’ve not played with in years when a new sibling enters the home. They will speed toward that playmat like they’re re-enacting Chariots of Fire and spread themselves all over it so there’s no room for baby. Just staying calm asking them to find a spot for baby and talking to them about how they can teach baby all about the playmat can be useful.
- They don’t have to share everything. Having special things that are theirs is healthy. But just as long as they understand it cuts both ways!
- Check in with your cherubs. If they’re old enough to chat to you, talk to them about what they’re feeling inside, and why they think those icky feelings are coming up. This helps them to understand what’s going on. If they’re a bit younger, get them to draw pictures. It’s amazing how kids process things through drawing. Or even sandpit play!
- Provide choices and let your child make the decision. For each choice be very clear about the reward or consequence that may come from their decision. Understanding that it’s ok to feel a bit jealous sometimes, but it’s not ok to act out, or to hurt their sibling(s).
- Focus on the positive interactions. The second there is harmony between siblings, or caring behaviour (like, the MICROSECOND you spot it), jump all over it. Go nuts. Praise, jump up and down and clap like a performing seal. That’s crack for kiddies. The attention. They lurve it. When they’re not interacting so well, try to minimise your focus on it. Don’t harp on about it, provide minimal eye contact. Simply split the siblings up, and talk about it when everyone is calm. They’ll soon see they get the floor when they’re being caring and kind, not when they’re wailing on their sibling.
- Provide a united front. Kids are amazeballs at divide and conquer. If they can’t get what they want from Mum, they’ll go to Dad, and vice versa. So just ensure that you’ve got the same language around the sibling stuff, the same consequences, and that neither of you let something slide ,where the other would attend to it.
And above all else? It all works out in the wash. It can be hard sometimes, and you might wonder what the heck were you thinking and then consider buying a vineyard, because it would be cheaper than buying out Dan Murphy’s, BUT it gets easier, and your children will have beautiful moments together. Hold onto those ones!
How did you get along with your siblings growing up? Were you best buddies, or mortal enemies?
Hi, I’m Sasha from From the Left Field.
Sasha is a head-shrinker, music nutter, wine guzzling, Mama-type. A hoarder extraordinaire, with the art of procrastination down to a fine art. Dr. Phil’s alter-ego. With hair. And a potty mouth. She blogs over at From the Left Field, waffling about kids, parenting, self-help, and Disney movies.
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