How to handle sibling rivalry

Give credit where it’s due

Make sure you recognise those moments when your child shares beautifully or says something nice about a sibling or friend. If you don’t want to ruin the moment when they’re actually playing together, make time at the end of the day to tell your little one that you noticed their actions. Positive feedback makes it more likely they’ll do the same again!

Pro-tip: Reviewing the day at bedtime also gives you an opportunity to talk over what didn’t go so well, and go over what they could do differently next time.

Back each other up

If you’re co-parenting, make sure each parent backs the other up when it comes to boundary-setting and discipline. If you’re taking over childcare duties from your partner or someone else, check in on any limits that have been set, and to see if anyone’s already on a warning! That way, all the children can see that you’re being fair, and boundaries stay consistent.

Pro-tip: If you’re spending extended time with another family (for example, on a visit or holiday), it can be useful to talk to the other parents in the group about boundaries and basic rules beforehand and agree on a united approach.

Protect one-to-one time

Siblings can be very different from one another, and day-to-day it can be difficult to focus on your children’s individual needs. It can be useful to set aside special time to spend one-on-one with each child, doing something they enjoy. This is a great way of recognising their unique interests, and showing them that you see them as individuals.

Pro-tip: Try ‘love-bombing’, or spending a set amount of special time with your child where they choose what you do and have the opportunity to feel they’re in control.

Embrace the age gap

Handling a big age gap between siblings can be tricky. If you have an older one and a baby, encourage the older child to share some caretaking tasks – but make sure you tell them how much you appreciate their help. Try to avoid lumping siblings together as ‘the kids’ – show them that you recognise their different ages and stages.

Pro-tip: Even finding ten minutes to spend one-to-one with your older child can make a huge difference when they’re suddenly sharing you with a much younger sibling.

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