As we congratulate the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge on the birth of their new baby, Princess Charlotte Elizabeth Diana, spare a thought for Prince George and how he will feel when he realises he has a new baby sister to contend with. It can be tough for a toddler to welcome a new baby into his world.
Sibling rivalry is the competition, jealousy and fighting between brothers and sisters. It can be a problem for most parents who have two or more children, and problems can begin soon after the birth of a second child. Rivalry usually continues through childhood and parents can find this very stressful and frustrating; there are not many children who start out as “best friends”, playing together happily for hours on end.
A toddler will not realise his feelings are of jealousy, he just wants your attention, and may react by misbehaving or refusing to do things. He may jump on the sofa while you are feeding the baby, refuse to walk, stop using his potty or even prod the new baby.
Here at Niche Etiquette Children we have put together a few tips on sibling rivalry that may help you, but remember it is a normal part of family life.
Spend quality time with your toddler, try to set aside time to do something with just him while baby sleeps.
Make the older sibling feel important and build his confidence
Ask your toddler for help, ask him to pass you the baby wipes etc., and point out how helpful he has been and how much the baby likes him. Find small manageable tasks for the older child to do and give praise and encouragement.
Don’t compare your children – take a little time to look and think
- Do you give into one child more than another? Is this because that child is more demanding?
- Watch your children to see what is happening between them.
- Do they both start an argument, or is one child more demanding?
- Do problems happen at any particular time of day?
- What are they fighting about and what happens when they argue?
Referee quarrels and listen to both sides. Try not to show favouritism towards one child.
Discourage tale telling. Make a point of ensuring you will not stand for your children trying to get each other into trouble, but make sure they know you are there for help if necessary.
Try not to get into the habit of thinking about “good” or “bad behaviour. Be firm about negative behaviour without making your child feel guilty.
The skills you impress on them now will help them in later life, to control their anger when provoked, to talk their way out of difficult situations, to understand others better and to be good parents when their turn comes.
As we age we find that our strongest bonds and friendships are forged with our siblings so even though they are struggling now, it will be worth it in the future. Prince George may well discover his closest friend will be his younger sister.
There are many books to read with smaller children on the subject of sibling rivalry and you can contact me for advice here at firstname.lastname@example.org.
I also offer private one-to-one coaching, social skills and etiquette training for children, and family coaching for all your needs.