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Easing Sibling Rivalry

While the new baby is sleeping, play or read with your older child. Give her your undivided attention, so she will feel loved and secure. It is essential to set aside individual time for each child on a regular basis. During these times, be sure to let her know how special she is and how much you appreciate her help. Some comparison between children is inevitable, but regular praise of each one of your children builds self-esteem and self-confidence. Children need to hear what they do well. Be sure to praise your older child for his or her uniqueness, strengths, accomplishments, and efforts.

Older children jealous of new babies or younger siblings can be surprisingly aggressive and sometimes torment their siblings. You should intervene if it begins to get out of control. By the same token, younger siblings should not be given "free reign" to harass or irritate the oldest just because they're smaller. Blaming each other or tattling should be discouraged and try to let the children sort out some of their own problems by remaining neutral. However, if one is being bullied or harsh words are being said, disciplinary intervention may need to occur before things get out of hand. Call a time out for them both to cool off, then calmly discuss the situation. These are the times when you will need wisdom and patience to determine how best to seek justice for all injured parties.

Life can be chaotic and frustrating with children at times, especially if it seems all they do is bicker, argue, and fight. Take time to remind yourself that it is a part of growing up and you can't stop that process no matter how hard you try. All you can do as a loving parent is show each child unconditional love and accept them for who they are.

Someday they won't be under your roof anymore, so it's important to enjoy each moment with them while they are young and allow them to develop their own relationships with one another. You can encourage more closeness by complimenting them when they play well with each other or when they help out. Being a big brother or a big sister can be a very important part of a child's personal development. As a parent, your role is to help your children recognize that being a sibling is a wonderful opportunity for closeness, love, and friendship.

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