Sibling rivalry is usually expressed with negative emotions and behaviours between siblings as they go for hammer and tongs when things don’t go their way.
Sometimes the rivalry gives rise to unhealthy competition between siblings as they vie for parental approval and attention. At other times a child surrenders meekly to the machinations of an overpowering sibling.
Sibling rivalry also becomes a behavior problem if allowed to fester in early years.
It is possible to pre-empt sibling rivalry by mothers to avoid a traumatic situation for their preschoolers.
Here are some tips highlighted through an example of preparing a first born preschooler for the birth of his little sister.
Inform child about new baby
When you think it is the right moment start sensitising your child to the new baby.
- First let him feel the presence of the baby growing inside mum’s body.
- Introduce the baby as a new family member and seek your child’s help to set up a sleeping area with all the things the former may need.
- Talk about the baby’s birth in the hospital and allay any separation anxiety he may have with his mum leaving for the hospital.
- Tell him that the baby will need looking after at all times as it is very tiny and helpless.
That even he had gone through the same experience.
Hospital visit by the child
- Declare the baby’s gender as soon as she is born. Make him feel a proud older brother.
- Your child can prepare a greeting card and home made gifts such as hanging mobiles, with some help from family members. He can hand over all the things for the new baby at the hospital
- He can touch the baby very gently and see how helpless, dependent and lovely she is!
- Do emphasize that both mum and his little sister will come home very soon.
Step III: New baby at home
- Demonstrate your love for your older child and impress upon him that you love him as well as his little sister.
- Whenever possible, involve him in many activities with the new baby, so that does not feel left out.
- Tell your older child stories about babies who were helped by their responsible older brother and sister.
- Set some do’s and don’ts for him, when interacting with his little sister. Support it with an explanation.
This will help him understand his helping role better.
- Your child can play with his sister under your supervision. When the baby rewards him with smiles, squeals and gurgles, it will help build a special bond between them.
You know your children the best, therefore you should think of ways and means to promote positive interactions between your younger and older child. Answer your preschooler’s questions. Try not to give an overdose of answers. So mums go ahead and pre-empt the issue of sibling rivalry and share your rewarding experiences with other mums.