Giving Siblings Attention

You are probably familiar with the term 'sibling rivalry' which refers to a state of jealously (and sometimes conflict!) between children in a family. This often happens between brother and sister or between siblings of the same gender.

So this is something to think about when you bring your new baby home for the first time.

If you already have children – say a young toddler – then they will find it difficult to share your attention with the new addition to the family. They are used to being the centre of attention and suddenly they are no longer 'numero uno'.

So they start to compete for your attention.

How many parents out there have experienced this problem? Did you go through this with your siblings when you were younger? It is a common problem but the answer is to ensure that all children receive the same amount of attention.

Sibling rivalry

This takes the form of arguing and fighting which is mainly down to jealously. One sibling becomes jealous of the other sibling who they perceive is getting more attention than them. So they only way they know how to responds is by bickering or arguing.

Sometimes this becomes physical in the form of pushing, shoving, pinching and eventually, fighting.

Your child will resent the amount of attention you give to the new baby and will show this in a variety of ways: these include pushing in when you are feeding baby; trying to attract your attention; behaving badly or regressing as in behaving like a baby themselves to win your attention.

How to prevent sibling rivalry

It is a good idea to tell your child or children about the new baby before it is born. Explain to them about your pregnancy and let them feel your stomach so that they understand what you are talking about.

This prevents any surprises and involves them in the process.

Talk to your child/children about what will happen during birth and afterwards. Explain to him/her about you bringing the new addition home and how you would like him/her to help.

Reassure your child that they are still special and loved and will not be shunted aside for the new baby.

When you arrive home with your little one, involve your child from the beginning. Encourage him/her to take an interest and to help you with looking after the new baby.

But still ensure that you make time for your child so that he/she doesn't feel left out. Set aside some time when the new baby is asleep.

There will be times when your child feels resentful of the new baby and will show this by throwing a tantrum or directing their anger towards the baby. So it is probably a good idea not to leave the two of them together.

If you catch your child being aggressive towards your new baby then stop him/her from doing this and explain that it is inappropriate and wrong. Don't compare your child in an unfavourable way to the baby but rather instead praise him/her instead.