If having a child is the greatest joy a mother could ever hope to experience, a second child means double the happiness, right?
While arrival of your second baby should be a total thrill to you and your first child, you need to be prepared for the near future as sibling relationships are often incredibly delicate. Even if your children seem to “click” at an instant, there’s no doubt that somewhere down the line a sense of rivalry may develop; likewise, brothers and sisters alike tend to get a bit rowdy from time to time.
It's difficult to deny the massive pressure on new mothers in regard to how they treat both siblings as the decisions made in adolescence can carry over into adulthood. Given that a mere 33% of siblings consider themselves “close” as adults, what can you do to help encourage a healthy relationship between your children from the start?
Consider the following six strategies, each of which represent subtle parenting tips that may have a long-term positive impact on how your children treat each other.
Give Them Their Space
Although your sibling pair may be inseparable at times, it's crucial to give them their space and encourage them to spend some time apart. While it's common for siblings to share bedrooms and sometimes even co-sleep at very young ages, eventually you're going to want to invest in some new kids furniture to give them their own spaces when they're old enough (think: around the age of six or seven).
When your kids are constantly cooped up together, they're more likely to lash out. On the flip side, providing them with their own space allows for...
· Opportunities to explore their own personality and interests
· Quiet time to reflect without being interrupted by their brother or sister
· Chances to learn a sense self-reliance
Act As a Mediator
It's not your job as a parent to prevent every single fight, but rather be supportive to both siblings when scuffles occur. Remember, you're their mother, not a superhero. By acting as a mediator, you let your kids sort out their problems themselves versus always dictating behavioral expectations.
Don't Constantly Compare Them
Don't expect your children to have the exact same interests, personality traits and talents. Sibling rivalries often stem from a sense of competition: when you constantly compare your kids, you essentially become the root of the problem. Accept your children for who they are and nurture them accordingly.
Divide Your Time Equally
Make sure to spend equal time with both of your children, which is a two-way street of positivity. On one hand, you get to know your children better on a personal level. On the flip side, you allow your children time away from their sibling so they can grow into their own personality.
Never Play Favorites
No parent wants to ever admit to playing favorites, but it inevitably happens. While most parents would never do so intentionally, your child’s perception of you favoring their brother or sister over themselves can have long-term negative effects on their psyche. As a result, strive to provide your children with equal treatment in terms of both punishment and praise.
Maintain Realistic Expectations
Let's face it: your children are going to fight and argue at times. There's no avoiding it.
Don't less the stress of siblings distract you from the joys of raising you children. Instead, show your supportive side and embrace a bit of turmoil the madness along the way.
Realistically, you can't stop every tantrum and tug-of-war match, but you can offer your support. As long as you try your best and stay involved in your kids' lives, you'll be just fine.