Coping with Sibling Rivalry

***Anecdotes and advice from a Supermom of 12 children

Sibling rivalry is as old as the Old Testament, as the story of Cain and Abel can attest. It seems that no one is immune. How then, can you mitigate the effects of jealousy in your home so as to keep the atmosphere as pleasant as possible?

Upheaval and confusion

Bringing home a new baby is supposed to be a happy occasion, but children like and need stability and routine. The new arrival will, of necessity, cause some upheaval and confusion in your home. Your child will find that you cannot spare as much time for him—that the baby requires much attention and that you are focused on the new infant. This can cause resentment in even an older child.

Minimize the chaos

Your child will experience both happiness and love for the new baby, as well as anger and jealousy at his new place in your heart. These conflicting feelings can cause much discomfort and confusion for your child. Younger children, aged one to three years are more susceptible to these emotions, as they are more dependent on your for their survival. Minimize the chaos and displeasure by preparing your children, well in advance, on how the arrival of the new baby will affect your household.

You can expect some regression from your children with the arrival of the new baby. For example, a child who was toilet trained may begin to wet, and a toddler weaned to a cup may demand a bottle. A child who had given up thumb sucking might return to this behavior. These lapses in behavior tend not to last long and it's important not to focus on or worry about them as they occur.

Sometimes jealousy is covert, perhaps unknown even to the child displaying the hostile behavior. An example of this type of behavior is seen when your child hugs the baby so hard she cries. It's important that you deal with this behavior in a firm way. Tell your child that she mustn't harm the baby, ever, and show her a better way to hug.

For more information on how to prepare your child for the arrival of a new baby check out our child care videos.