Elder one – “Mom, look he is sitting on my chair… I will kick him, if he runs away with my balloon… Why does he always want to play with my Barbie doll?”
The younger one is still running oblivious to complaints from his elder sister.
Aren’t these the kind of scenes happening in every house?
Siblings do fight. They are kids and they sure have a mind of their own. We cannot stop and force them to behave like adults on all fronts. I have heard elders say, “Don’t interfere much when the kids are fighting, give them a chance to resolve it on their own.”
When we are hell-bent on teaching them all kinds of things, why forget the very important lesson of teaching them to love and respect their own brother/sister.
The bonding between siblings is not going to develop overnight. We, as parents need to make a conscious effort to nurture a strong bond between them. Their sibling will always be with them through thick and thin, to share their joys and alleviate their sorrows.
Here are my top 8 tips for building love between siblings and maintaining harmony in their relationship.
1) Start building their relationship from the very beginning. When I say from the beginning, it means right from the day you start planning a second baby. Take them along for the routine checkups and share the baby’s growth through ultrasound pictures.
The first few days after delivery are really tough and there comes the role of a dad. He must take complete care of the older child till the time the mommy settles down with the new baby. Never stop the elder one from playing with the baby. Trust me he/she will not cause any harm to the little one. The one magic line which I shared with my elder daughter before my son’s birth was –”He is your baby and you have to take care of him with mumma and papa’s help.” She took it very seriously and felt responsible towards him.
2) Golden rule – Never let the neighbours/relatives talk about the younger one getting more love and attention. I really hate it from the bottom of my heart when an outsider says – “Your mom will love the new baby more. Now, your name will be removed from the car and the baby’s name will be printed.” Worst of all “you are grown up and should behave like a good boy/girl.”
He/she is still a kid and hasn’t turned into an adult overnight after the second baby’s arrival. These negative comments affect their tender minds and generate a feeling of hatred towards the newborn sibling. Don’t ever let these comments reach your child’s ear.
3) Cultivate hobbies between them like reading, playing board games, dancing, playing a sport etc. This will immensely help in strengthening their relationship.
4) Distract the younger one. Always remember the elder one understands things better and can make out easily if you are trying to fool him/her. It’s easy to distract the younger one with something more attractive when they are fighting for a toy with the other sibling.
5) Give one on one time for each of your kids. This is not just for the siblings. Even I enjoy spending individual time with both my children. When I am alone with the elder one, we discuss numerous things such as school, friends, grandparents, or any other issue. She discusses anything and everything with me during this time. We read together without any disturbance from the younger one. While with my little son, I love to play and laugh. In this way they will not feel that their parent’s attention is ever divided.
6) Have you heard this line in your house “Can we send the baby back to the Doctor? I don’t want him now. He is very naughty. Can we put him back in your stomach for a few days. Can we change him with a better kid.”
In these kinds of situations, probing further does help. “Do you really want to send your baby back to the Doctor? Who will feed him or who will prevent him from falling?” These questions are enough to trigger the responsible big sister avatar and then she wouldn’t want to part away from the baby.
7) Give the role of a teacher to the elder one. All kids love to play ‘teacher-teacher’, especially the little girls. My elder daughter loves to mimic her teacher. She loves to teach my one-year-old son things like where is the fan, where is your head, nose, legs, hands etc. She also taught him how to do a ‘High–Five’. It’s like a blessing to see both of them raising their hands in the sky and giving high-fives with a loud sound, followed by a lot of laughter.
8) Instead of buying two things, cultivate the habit of playing together or by turns. There is no point in buying two of the same things. Instead, it’s good to have some variety where both can play together by sharing the toy/book etc or using it individually in turns.
The best book to understand more about Sibling Rivalry and ways to avoid it is ‘Siblings without Rivalry – How to help your children live together so you can live too’.
Rashmi Sehgal is the mother of two adorable kids, 4 and 1-year-old fondly known as Angel and Lil prince on her blog. She wears the dual hat of mother and IT Professional who juggles between work and kids trying to maintain balance between both worlds . She is a voracious reader , avid blogger , Shopaholic, love to experiment different way of learning and unlearning things with her daughter and take pleasure in reading books to her daughter. She writes at rashworld.wordpress.com