Do you constantly feel like you are playing referee, pulling your kids apart and handing them penalty cards?
It is disheartening to see your loved ones fight and hurt each other. Until the arrival of the newborn baby, your firstborn had your undivided attention. It becomes difficult for the elder one to cope with this emotionally stressful phase.
The good news is that most kids over a period of time develop a good equation with their siblings. As a parent, you need to strive to imbibe the value of being a family and friends for life.
Here are some ways to help you teach your child to get along and develop a bond.
Foster friendship before new child arrives
Involve your first born in welcoming the new child right from the pregnancy. Sharing pictures, choosing names, talking to the bump are great ways of building an early relationship. Show the elder one pictures and videos of his/her own growth and special times with you.
Discourage the habit by equipping and encouraging them to solve their own problems. Keep an eye on them from a distance and be ready to intervene if someone if in danger.
Yes, you read that right. Life will not treat them equally and nor can you. ‘Why does he have to eat only one roti when I have to eat two?’ ‘Because you need more energy’ Sometimes you have to stop keeping scores and let them face reality.
Do not promote competition
Saying words like ‘See your brother drinks his milk so quickly. Why can’t you be more like him?’ can hurt and develop unhealthy competition. If you need to appreciate, say it without comparison.
Your elder one needs to feel important. You can boost his ego, by giving him/her a raise in the family. Roles like an assistant to mom, helper in the family and teacher will make him/her feel responsible and proud.
Talk to your child, understand their feelings and empathize with them. Come up with a midway solution that does not favour anyone but protects both. Words like ‘I know you want your sister’s crayons’ ensures that your child talks about his/her feelings. Make them feel loved and wanted.
Positive appreciation and rewards
Define a reward system where playing together, helping each other, sharing or co-sleeping is recognized and rewarded.
Don’t play favourites
It is only natural to play favourites, but try avoiding it. Don’t let that bother them. Always give neutral answers if asked whom you love more or other such controversial questions.
Be a good role model
Kids are keen observers. When parents fight or do not respect each other, kids take notice. Resolving differences by discussing and apologizing at the end will set the tight example.
One of the hardest thing to do as a parent is to establish harmony among siblings and be patient at the same time. Consistency and positive attitude will help you on track.