Tips for Dealing with Sibling Rivalry Disorder
As soon as baby number 2 comes into the picture, the dynamics of your household change drastically! With some patience and know-how, your whole family can emerge unscathed. Here we will focus brief information about dealing with sibling rivalry disorder.
If you have more than one child, sibling rivalry will rear its’ ugly head sooner or later. Parents have fretted over their children getting along since Bible times. Cain and Abel, Jacob and Esau are only two examples of boys who fought.
If you think you are the only parent who faces the sibling rivalry dilemma, take heart. I’m certain even ‘Dick and Jane’s’ parents found themselves separating the two.
Parents of toddlers are particularly concerned about sibling rivalry, especially when the toddler has been the only child in the household. The toddler, up until the birth of her sibling, has been numero uno, ‘the big cheese’ as it were, ‘the little princess.”
From the toddler’s standpoint, the new baby presents the possibility of dethroning. Though the toddler can not express it, he is most like feeling, ‘No one asked me!”
Once the baby arrives, there is much attention given to the little bundle. There are gifts galore and everyone fawns over the new baby. If you are not careful your toddler will assimilate into the background.
He is acknowledged only in his significance to the new addition; “How do you like your new baby brother?” What the toddler feared most is happening. His dethroning is at hand, his prince hood is being revoked.
Thankfully it does not have to be this way. Parents can find a happy medium in welcoming the newest member of their family and keeping their firstborn happy. It is really quite easy and just takes a little common sense.
Here are a few ideas for dealing with sibling rivalry disorder:
- Make it sooner than later, that you inform your toddler of the upcoming event. Don’t keep your child in the dark, so that the first time he becomes aware of the possibility of a new brother or sister, is when your friends and acquaintances hear the joyful news.
- Make him feel as if you are letting him in on a great secret. (However, don’t tell him before you want anyone else to know. Toddlers have a way of spilling the beans.)
- Talk about the baby, but not to excess. Talk about the baby in terms of ‘our’ baby. Tell the toddler over and over again, what a big boy, and a good brother he will be. Talk to him about all the ways he can help, and how he will be able to teach the new kid the ropes.
- Remind the toddler, that even with the introduction of a new baby to the family, he will always be ‘your baby’. Assure him of his very special place in the family.
- If possible, take your toddler with you when visiting the doctor. Ask the doctor if the toddler can listen to his little sisters’ heartbeat. Show the toddler, age-appropriate pictures and diagrams of how the baby grows in your tummy.
- Encourage your toddler to touch your stomach. Even kissing your tummy begins the bonding process. When the baby kicks or moves around, point it out to the toddler, and allow him to feel the baby kick. Tell the toddler, ‘his’ baby can not wait to get out of there to see him.
- Talk honestly with your toddler of how it will be when the baby arrives. “He will not be able to play with you for a long time, but you can help mommy…” Go to the library with your toddler, and find books to read about children who welcomed a new baby brother or sister.
Once the new baby arrives:
- Pamper your toddler with a few small gifts. This will remind him that he is special too when the gifts begin pouring in for the new baby.
- Buy your toddler (or make one yourself) a tee-shirt declaring “I am the big brother/sister.” Find some way to make the toddler feel significant. (because he is)
- Allot some quality time to your toddler each day.
- Sit next to your toddler and allow him to touch or hold the baby under your supervision.
- Give the toddler attention immediately after coming home from the hospital.
- Within reason, place some of your toddler’s needs above that of the baby. For instance, if the baby is safe, but crying, finish up quickly what you are doing with your toddler, before rushing to the baby. Don’t throw the toddler down from your lap in a hurry to get to the baby.
- Do not dispense with disciplining your toddler. Though you should apply a significant amount of mercy and leniency on your toddler with the introduction of a newborn to the family, do not completely ignore your toddler when disciplinary action is warranted.
- Your toddler may conclude that you do not love him/her, if you do not discipline him, for an infraction for which he was disciplined pre-new baby. I am sorry to say, that even with adherence to the above suggestions, parents will at best, minimize sibling conflict. It comes with the territory. Still, rivalry aside, if one child is a blessing, a second is double.