There's a tiny bit of sibling rivalry happening in my home right now, but that's to be expected after a new baby is born. The older two compete over who gets to help change the diapers, give the baby a toy, or even who gets to burp her. And then my two-year old gets torn between competing with her older sister as a big kid, or her younger sister as a baby. With three girls all about two years apart, there's bound to be some jealousy and friendly competition, but keeping it in check is important and perhaps not as hard as you think.
Talk About It
In an interview with WebMD, parenting expert Adele Faber, co-author of Siblings Without Rivalry, said that parents must help children name and accept their feelings. Let your child know that you understand her feelings and then teach her how to best handle those feelings.
Parents sometimes have a tendency to compare children, often without realizing it. We say things like, "Your sister doesn't whine at homework time," or "Stop jumping! Why can't you sit quietly like your brother," or "Your brother was good so he got to go to the baseball game." Life isn't a competition, especially among siblings.
And children have a habit of becoming who we tell them they are. When we say things like this it kills self-esteem and hurts personalities. Some children love to read and some love to run. Some do as they are told and some push our buttons. We don't yet know why, but each of their character traits is there for a reason because they will need them in order to fulfill their dreams later in life. Don't compare. Don't make them competitors with each other in an already fierce world.
When you have more than one child, it can be difficult to spread yourself equally among them. Sometimes, like when there's a new baby in the house, it can be impossible. Do your best to squeeze in alone time with each of them, even if it's not until a few moments before bed. Everyone wants to feel loved and no one wants to feel like a person who is just in the way of everything else Mommy and Daddy have to do. Carve out time each day to truly be with your children. You will all be better for it.
Divvy Up Chores
Each child wants to feel important and to find their "place" in the family. Divide up the chores so that each child has something they can do to help. No child is too little; there is something for everyone. Remember to compliment their work, even if they don't do it up to your standards. They're learning, and the more you show how proud of them you are, the more they'll want to please you and do the best job they can do.
Don't just tell your children that you love them, tell them you love what they do. When they are playing nicely together, tell them how much you love watching them interact so nicely with each other. When they are sitting quietly reading, tell them how much you enjoy seeing them that way. Don't use your words just to tell them when they are misbehaving. Find the good and celebrate it.
Our children naturally compete with each other in order to win over our attention. Don't feed that competitiveness. Instead, highlight their strengths, celebrate their differences, and make sure each child knows that they aren't just loved equally, but they are loved completely.