Two or more children often first experience the world of “I’m not the only one in the world?” through a sibling. Children often vie for parents’ love and attention, so to help ease the realization that others count, too:
First and foremost, do not play favorites
consciously pay attention to each child;
spend separate, quality time with each child;
protect each child equally and don’t always “rescue” a younger child from an older sibling (so don’t let the younger child take the older child’s toys); and
lose the labels – the smart one, the easy one, the athletic one or the wild child – focus on positive attributes, such teamwork or kindness, so siblings can begin to help each other instead of competing for their parents’ approval.
Give each child a toy or possession that they don’t have to share;
listen and celebrate each child’s differences: let each know they are special in their own way;
do not dismiss or suppress your children’s resentment or angry feelings;
whenever possible, let siblings settle their own differences.
All family members need to work together: parents and children and any others who live in the home and have a stake in decisions affecting the daily life of the family should take part. To make your family meetings successful, establish some general rules, for example:
- Everyone gets a chance to talk
- One person talks at a time and does not get interrupted
- Okay to say what you feel
- No one has to talk
- Everyone has to listen
- No one puts anyone else down
Develop a plan for evenly distributing coveted privileges.
- Who gets to ride “shotgun” in the car? (It’s amazing how many teenagers and young adult siblings still make this an important issue.)
- Who gets to push the button in the elevator?
- Who gets to choose where to go to eat lunch or dinner?
- Who gets to choose the television show?
- Who does what chores (age appropriate) weekly or monthly? Etc.