When I had my second child, I wanted to make sure that they would become best friends. I wanted to avoid sibling rivalry as much as possible.
The first thing I did was whenever I talked about the baby it was “our baby” or “her baby sister”. We casually talked about how she was going to be a big sister and she would get to teach the baby lots of new stuff. After my second daughter was born, Princess G, we had her big sister come right away. Princess A was 28 months at the time. She remembers coming to the hospital and meeting her little sister.
When I got home I followed some great advice: don’t always go to the baby first. If I was doing something for my oldest I would say out loud “Princess G, I will be there in a minute I am helping your sister.” Of course the baby did not understand me but my oldest did. I think it really helped that I did not always rush to the baby. My oldest felt as though she was just as important. I also used one of the baby’s naps to take the time and play with Princess A. Her favorite memories of that time were when we would play in the snow and then have hot cocoa to warm up. We were never outside more than 15 minutes (dressing took longer, lol) but to her it was an eternity with just mommy. She also got to go on a few dates with Daddy too!
I made sure that things were pretty even or at least appeared even to them. As they got older I emphasized that we share in our house. They have their special stuffed animal and a doll or two that they don’t have to share but everything else they share. I point out to them that if they share toys then they have a bigger variety. For example, instead of buying them both the same doll, I buy one in blue and the other in pink. They now have different dolls. I knew I was getting through to them when at my oldest birthday she received a present with two Barbie ballerinas in the package and she turned to ask me which one was hers. I told her since it was her birthday she could pick.
They do argue with each other on occasion but it does not last long. First, they know I won’t be happy and they also won’t like my solution. If they do argue, which is about once a week, it is over a toy or that my oldest wants to read instead of playing. In our house sharing and kindness is how we are as a family. My girls see my husband and me being kind and sharing. My husband and I rarely argue, about twice a year, and we always talk softly and very respectfully.
The best way to avoid sibling rivalry is to treat your kids fair and with love. Things are not always perfectly even but when things are not I ask them what I can do to even things up, and usually they come up with a great idea and everyone is happy!
*Post by Noreen, a BabyLegs Mom.
I had always heard that parenting strategies differed between your first child and any subsequent children, but I never knew how true it was until our second came along! Our first child is now 8 and my parenting strategy with him can be summed up neatly into one word: overprotective. I washed his bottles/sippy cups separately from other dishes in the dishwasher and his clothing separately in the washing machine until he was well over a year old - with my daughter I only did that for the first few months. Whereas he wasn’t allowed to climb on to the sofa by himself or go anywhere near the stairs, my daughter is a little monkey who will climb anything and everything and loves spending hours at a time climbing up the stairs and sliding down on her bottom (with either Daddy or me right behind her of course, just in case!)
I think several factors contribute to these vast differences in the way we parent her compared to the way we parented him. The main one being the differences in their personalities. Our son was a shy, quiet child and was more interested in playing with shape sorters and puzzles than tumbling and climbing. He loved to sit and read books or just cuddle. Our daughter on the other hand is more rough-and-tumble and prefers a more hands-on approach to her exploration of the world around her.
Another factor that helps to explain the change between our parenting styles 8 years ago and now is our age. My husband and I were 19 and 20 when our son was born. At that young age, we were nervous and unprepared and therefore highly overprotective with him. Now that we’re older (and wiser), we are comfortable with giving our daughter a little more “breathing room” to grow and explore, while still keeping a watchful eye and arms ready to rescue her when she gets a little too adventurous!
Also, from our own experience and talking with friends who also have more than one child, the common theme seems to be that second children are more energetic and adventurous because they have an older sibling to try to keep up with. That definitely holds true in our house! So for those of you expecting or contemplating adding a second child (or more) to your family, my advice is to remember that you will more than likely have to change up your parenting style a bit and remain flexible, and not to worry if you find yourself doing things completely differently than with your first. It’s definitely an adjustment, but so worth it – change can be a great thing!
About the Blogger:
Hi! I’m Beth Ann and I live in Central PA. My husband and I have been together for 10 years and have an 8 year old son and an 18 month old daughter who both love BabyLegs. I’m a stay-at-home mom and also do part-time work from home as a legal transcriptionist. I enjoy working on my photography hobby, remodeling our house, going to sporting events, pretty much anything that involves spending time with my family!
*Image from Living Mi Vida Loca