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18 August 2003

Dealing with sibling rivalry

It is normal for siblings to feel threatened by the arrival of a new baby. They may find it difficult to cope with your divided attention and may feel that you don’t love them or have time for them anymore.

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It is normal for siblings to feel threatened by the arrival of a new baby. They may find it difficult to cope with your divided attention and may feel that you don’t love them or have time for them anymore.

Often a sibling’s reaction is not due to the arrival of your new baby but could be because he is angry with you for “leaving” him and “disappearing” when you went to hospital.

Toddlers may display regressive behaviour such as going back to wanting a dummy or bottle, talking like a baby or even crawling.

Don’t jump to conclusions when you child behaves differently. It is also possible that the changes could be normal, age-appropriate behaviour.

How can you make it easier for your child to adjust?

  • Involve your child in caring for the baby and show your appreciation.
  • Buy a doll and encourage your child to copy your behaviour when you are taking care of the baby.
  • Make sure that your child is occupied during feeding times. Reading to your child while you are feeding is a good idea.
  • Spend quality time with your child when the baby is sleeping.
  • Reward positive behaviour towards the baby.
  • Constantly reassure your child that you love and care about him or her.
  • Make your child feel special. Praise his or her strengths, talents and accomplishments.
  • Don’t feel too anxious when your child struggles to cope with the new sibling. It is normal for him or her to take a while to adapt.
  • If your child refuses to go back to school, don’t force him. Allow him to stay home but make your day boring and dull.
 
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