Sibling rivalry: How to handle an older sibling when the second child comes along

Sibling rivalry

Parents, while bringing up their children, usually raise them to be there for each other, to share and care. Unfortunately, sometimes siblings turn enemies later in life, and the families, which were once happy, become divided. Parents remain clueless at times as to why it happened. Sibling love or hate has its roots in childhood. Rivalry begins from the day the second child is born. 

The best way to handle this situation is to start from the very pregnancy period itself.  Take the older sibling into confidence, explain how the mother is going to carry the younger one for nine months. Involve the older one while making all decisions. Help them get used to the idea of sharing and living with another child. Create situations where they can spend time with other children close to their age beforehand. Read inspirational stories of sibling and family relationships. Help them understand this is someone that they are going to grow with in the same household. Also, instill confidence in them that they will continue enjoying the attention that they may be fearful of losing.

Mrs. Kavita Mungi
Kavita Mungi, mental health counselor

As the children grow older, it is very essential to have family activities together in order to enforce good relationships. It is up to the parents to be fair at all times. Resolving conflicts amicably, finding solutions that please all, making ground rules by taking everyone’s say into account and keeping peace is the way to go.

'Positivity' is the key! We have to help foster positivity towards each other’s successes. Equally, siblings need to learn to not deride each other for their failures. No two people are the same. Everyone is born with their own individuality in looks, intelligence, size, and with other facets to their personality. This is what makes each one of us unique!

Parents need to remember always that every one of their children is special.

Avoid making comparisons. I have seen parents make loose statements such as:

  1. My older child is good, but my younger one is awesome!
  2. My elder one is a beauty, but I really don’t know where my younger one has taken her genes from; they are certainly not mine!
  3. I wish I hadn’t given birth to this second. She has turned out to be a pain in my neck.
  4. Please learn from your elder sister and see how she has made us so proud, unlike you!

Many times, such harmful words are said to the poor child with friends or other family present. This has a long term impact on sibling relationships.

We as parents need to always remember that we are there for our children only to a certain point in life. They have to make strong bonds, which will take them into the future together. It is our responsibility to help nurture and maintain the sibling bond. All the beautiful homes in this world cannot give any happiness if there is no one to share them with. Being there for each other through joy and tears is what sibling love should be about. We need to emulate what we preach, so we need to develop, build and repair our own sibling relationships and set an example.