Developing Strong Bonds Between Your Children
It can be pretty complicated once a new baby becomes a part of the
family. Often, the second child arrives when the first is still a
toddler, who suddenly has to share your attention for the first time.
Soon, she will need to share other things with her younger sibling
too—her baby clothes, her favorite hair accessories, her dolls. She may
start saying things like “Take the baby back” or “She’s stupid” or “I
hate her.” She may even start getting physical and unintentionally harm
her baby sibling.
These are normal feelings of anger and jealousy, expressed in
inappropriate ways. Most parents will quickly reprimand their children
and tell them to stop expressing such feelings. But this actually makes
you lose a valuable opportunity to validate these feelings so you can
then teach your child more appropriate ways to express them.
An article entitled “The New Science of Siblings” published in Time
magazine in 2006 stated that parenting style and the child’s temperament
are the two most powerful variables that affect a child’s conflict
resolution skills. You can not change your child’s temperament, but you
can teach her ways to deal with challenges in her temperament.
It will be very helpful to your child if you validate her negative
feelings because that tells her that you understand how hard it is for
her to share your love, attention, and time. Once she is confident that
her feelings have been acknowledged, take that time to teach her
appropriate phrases or actions to express these negative emotions. She
can punch a pillow when angry, for example. You can easily find soft and
snug baby pillows in baby boutiques.
Some siblings grow up to be very close and consider each other good
friends. Sadly, others have conflicted relationships and grow up apart.
As a parent, it’s natural to want your children to have strong bonds
even as they become adults. But how do you help foster such positive
relationships? While they are young, find a way for your older child to
feel helpful to your younger one. Also, have special one on one time
with the eldest so she does not feel neglected.
Once your baby starts growing up, brace yourself for sibling conflicts.
Once your second child is old enough to crawl and explore, she is likely
to get into her older sibling’s things, like her favorite baby gifts,
and this starts a conflict. It is tempting to punish the oldest for not
wanting to share and then coddling the youngest. But this only makes you
responsible for managing the conflict instead of teaching them how to
work it out themselves. Children as young as 18 months can be shown
basic resolution skills.
Drop by your favorite baby boutique and get puppets that you can use for
conflict resolution. Your children can speak through them and say what
they really feel. You can speak for the youngest until she gains more
verbal skills. Then let the elder speak through her puppet to share her
feelings. This will help teach your children to work things out
Here are a few more tips to help develop a healthy bond between your children:
• Avoid comparing your children. It only sets them up to compete with each other.
• Treat your children according to what they need. Parents are always
advised to treat their children equally. But each of your children needs
you in a different way at different times.
• Accept that each of your children is a unique individual. Let them each know what you appreciate about them.
• Avoid labeling your children. Everyone is different to some degree,
and you want to encourage them to explore outside the box enough to
develop their own personalities.
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