Swimmom’s Weblog

Diary of a Stay-at-home Mom, motherhood and beyond

Big Brother V. Little Sister January 2, 2008

Filed under: motherhood,parenting,toddlers — swimmom @ 3:17 pm
Tags: , , ,

Now that my soon to be 11 month old has become very mobile and curious, the part of the day I spend playing referee has been increasing almost on a daily basis. If she’s not into his toys and trains, she is crawling after his food and grabbing for his drink. Don’t let the fact that he may be sitting in the way to stop her, he becomes an obstacle that she can simply just climb over. On one hand it is comical, on the other, I could just pull my hair out.

I try the obvious distractions, toys made for her age, or giving her some of his toys to keep her from grabbing the ones he is playing with, but we all know that doesn’t work. I have resulted to putting a gate up to separate them, or putting her in a walker so she can’t take his toys on the floor.

I did some research and according to Susan Ginsberg at Family TLC, “sometimes our expectations can be higher than the reality”. I think this is my problem. I have a younger sister and as a sibling we fought, we loved each other but at times as my mom would explain, we fought like cats and dogs. My mom always said, “this is your sister, you have to love your sister”. Although that is true, Ginsberg insists that “all the other feelings love/hate, cooperations/competition, and protectiveness/rejection are all just a normal part of the sibling relationship”. She goes on to explain, “it’s helpful to understand that sibling rivalry isn’t all negative and to learn some ways to deal with it”. Although I know this is true, deep down parts of me wish it were going to be easier.

Here are some tips she gives to starting out on the “right foot”:

1. Encourage the older sibling to put their feeling into words. Books on sibling rivalry are available to children of all ages.

Here is one I found at Barnes and Noble that I may check out.

(There is also a My big sister. It’s “babies eye view” is supposed to show the big brother just how much they mean to the new sibling)

2. Talk about the advantages of being the older child. How much he can do because he is bigger, i.e. sleep at grandmas, help mommy and so forth.

3. Ask your older child first before you give any outgrown items or toys to the baby. This may mean more than you think to the older sibling.

4. Keep in mind that it takes time for a young child to grasp the meaning of having a sibling.

She also has some great ideas for dealing with the “older sibling”:

1. The younger the kids are the more you will find yourself soothing and separating them. She suggests as they get older try and stay out of squabbles and see how they come up with their own solution.

2. If you do intervene do so calmly and neutrally without assuming who is the victim and who is the bully.

3. Set some basic rules, hurting each other is never okay, physically or verbally. (Expressing that someone makes them mad is acceptable but name calling is not)

4. Fair may not mean the same. Each child has different needs. Treat each child is unique.

I hope this helped put some things in perspective. You can check out her full article on Family TLC.

The only thing that can really help is experience and advice from those with experience. So if you have something that worked for you, I would love to hear it.

I would just love to deal with it correctly now so I don’t become one of those families with outrageous, fighting siblings on

Super Nanny.

Only if sibling relationships were as easy as those cute little t-shirts.


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