The earlier you start to cope with sibling rivalry among toddlers, the easier their journey as siblings becomes, when they grow up. Read on to know more.

Coping With Toddler Sibling Rivalry

No toddler can help feeling proud at the arrival of a new baby in his/her life and the elevated status of an elder brother/sister. But as the baby’s arrival draws near, the same toddler starts to show signs of inexplicable irrational behaviour. This kind of behaviour is a result of various kinds of negative feelings – anxiety, helplessness, confusion and so on – which never find a vent. These are the same feelings that we often give the innocuous name of sibling rivalry. We dismiss such feelings as irrational, which will disappear with time. Most such feelings do; however, in few cases, such feelings persist well into teenage and adulthood. It may do you good, as parents, to nip such feelings in the bud and to know how to deal with sibling rivalry and help the child deal with it too. While dealing with sibling rivalry, a parent should remember the causes of such negative feelings towards a new child that the elder child harbours. Knowing the causes will make it easy to deal with them one at a time.
Dealing With Toddler Sibling Rivalry

The arrival of a baby brings with it a lot of excitement for both the parents, the kind the toddler might not have seen earlier. Such kind of excitement might overwhelm the young child, causing changes in his/her routine. Some of the signs of anxiety that parents might look out for are – sleeplessness, extra demands for attention, clinginess, anger, bathroom accidents, baby talk and so on. To help a child deal with such anxiety, the parent should encourage him/her to express his feelings openly. Be careful not to use words like “You shouldn’t feel that way, beta.” These words give the impression that since the child’s feelings are not valid, he/she doesn’t have the right to feel that way. In short, you are invalidating the child’s feelings and validating whatever little neglect you might have been guilty of. Remember, making the child feel like a person who is capable of having feelings and opinions will remove feelings of neglect. 

Fear Of Losing Love
The toddler has enjoyed the attention of both his/her parents for all this while; thus the possibility of having to share all the attention runs chills down the toddler’s little spine. They must understand that, though for now baby will demand a lot of attention, he/she will not be loved any less; in fact he/she will have one more person who will love and be loved. Encourage your toddler to help you caring for the baby, and praise him/her as to how good an elder brother/sister he/she will turn out to be. Also, set aside time for you and toddler, where you talk to him/her, read a bedtime story or just spend some time watching cartoons. Do not stop these routines and do not take away from the child, anything that is familiar to him/her, like blankets and soft toys. 

It is nice to have a little brother/sister who would look up to the elder child for protection and love, but it is often parents themselves who sow the first seeds of resentment in a toddler during the time a new child arrives. The toddler may feel angry and try to hurt the baby; it is up to the parent to help the toddler channelise his/her anger in a better way. The best way to help the toddler is to let him/her vocalize his feelings and for you to understand and be patient. Instead of reprimanding the toddler for negative behaviour, reward and praise him/her for positive behaviour. It works better. 

It may help a parent to explain to a child what to expect from his/her new status as an elder sister/brother; she/he may not know and be confused about what to expect from the new baby. He/she may want to hold the baby or cuddle it, but may not know how. Teach him/her how to hold the baby without hurting it; encourage your toddler to read to the baby, sing to it and so on, rather than cuddling or smothering it with kisses.  

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