Quick Responses To Sibling Rivalry, New Baby In The House and More

I wanted to bring up a few quick responses for your consideration to some of the questions generated by our review of Chapter Four – “Kids Versus Kids” from the book, “Love and Anger:  The Parental Dilemma.”

Regarding Sibling Rivalry:

I have written some back posts regarding sibling rivalry in general. My two favorites are here:  http://theparentingpassageway.com/2010/07/21/summertime-bickering/  and this one: https://theparentingpassageway.com/2010/04/09/sibling-fighting/

Two  books I like about sibling relationships are “ Loving Each One Best” by Nancy Samalin and  “Siblings Without Rivalry” by Faber and Mazlish.

One thing I always consider in the equation of sibling rivalry is how to foster time and a good relationship between siblings, and the idea of restitution.

What sibling challenges are you coping with right now? Leave me a comment and I will try to address it in a future post!

Regarding Having A New Baby In The House:

I have seen things go one of two ways after a new baby enters the home:  either the children are exceedingly mellow, sleepy and happy to nest alongside with mama, OR the energy is just out of control crazy antics and everything is ramped up.  I personally always felt like took time for the "adrenaline rush" of having a new baby in the house to settle down, especially if family was visiting and also depending upon how things were going with the new infant.  Sometimes once extended family left, the energy seemed to calm down a bit.  I would love to hear your experiences and what the energy in your home was like after having a new baby in the house!  How did you handle it?

At any rate, I think there are a few other things to consider with the older child.   It can be really important to tie the older sibling of the family to your partner or other family member who can really take this child and hold them steady through work, being outside, showing how to be helpful…Really reigning that child in with jobs and as steady a rhythm as one can as all of you get settled in.

If that is not possible, then the other thing I  would suggest is the “relaxed” approach.  Dial everything down and really spend the time at home with bits of crafting, baking, reading and  being outside digging in the soil (newborns can nap outside!). Plan to work in small increments, and keep things as mellow as possible for at least three months and then slowly add life back in. I find this approach can work very well for mothers who do not have a partner or spouse about who can be a big help and who do not have other family available.

Many mothers wonder about older siblings who hit or are otherwise rough with a baby.  I think in this case, prevention is key.  A child younger than age 7 cannot be left alone with a baby period. I highly suggest baby wearing as an important way to get through these periods.  One must always be thinking, if I put the baby down on the floor to wiggle and such, where is my two or three year old going to be?  What job can I give that two or three year old to channel their energy into something productive and kind?  Am I giving this two, three or four year old enough work, enough physical activity?  Am I able to give this two, three or four year old my attention, my arms, carry them?  Two, three and four year olds are very little as well and need your arms and lap and such too!  Tandem nursing, baby wearing either the baby or the older child or both at the same time, co-sleeping, holding the baby and also holding the older child at the same time, smiling, hugging, laughing, working together to do things for the home and the baby, are all ways that mothers have coped with having a new baby and a slightly older child together.

I also wrote back posts about going from one child to two children, try this really popular one that seemed to speak to a lot of mothers:  https://theparentingpassageway.com/2010/07/27/even-more-about-transitioning-the-only-child-to-older-sibling/

Hope some of these thoughts are helpful; take what resonates with you!  You are the expert on your own family!



7 thoughts on “Quick Responses To Sibling Rivalry, New Baby In The House and More

  1. This is where we are right now! It was so helpful to me when my mother was here visiting for her to keep the big kids busy – particularly our 4yo. The others are older and easily settled into a quiet rhythm with that mix of excitement over their new baby sister. Sam (4yo) though needed to burn off that excess energy – almost nervous energy. I have made sure he and I have alone cuddle time each day also, this helps a ton, even if it is only 15 minutes.

    There is so much we can do while relaxing on our babymoon – Daddy took him to the library to pick out books just for me to read to him, he is content to sit with me quietly as we work through his stack of books. Having meals brought in helped so much too… if neighbors and friends offer to help LET THEM!

    Blessings to all of you new mommies!

  2. We are working intensely with our daughters on their relationship. Today has been really rough, though. It often gets to the point where the girls just simply have to be separated. Our almost 7 year old is pretty “spirited” and gets extremely hurtful towards her 4 year old sister, it is like she can’t even stop herself sometimes. We have tried so many things, right now it is working with a reward system at the suggestion of our parenting class teacher. Seems to be helping a little, but when things get out of control, we just can’t handle it.

  3. Thanks so much for these ideas, we welcomed a new baby 3 weeks ago and also have an energetic 3 year old….tried to keep busy for the first 2 weeks so the older child wouldn’t really notice the new addition, but instead burnt myself out ….now we are staying home and reading stories, baking etc and I feel much more refreshed….

  4. We are experiencing a lot of issues with sibling rivalry right now. This is our first year homeschooling, and while we’ve seen many wonderful benefits, particularly in my relationship with each child individually (especially my oldest, the one who is actually schooling), I have been a tad disappointed to see that we have not made a single bit of progress in the sibling rivalry deparment. One thing we’re struggling with a lot is teasing, especially my 8-year-old teasing my 4-year-old. Of couse the little one can dish it out too… but it is just so frustrating to see my older child, who I guess I expect to know better and to be at least a tad less egocentric, being so downright mean sometimes. In general, they just pick at each other. They purposely do things that they KNOW bug the heck out of each other.

    As far as the new baby, we’ve had that situation this year too. We were surprised to find out we would be adopting a newborn shortly after the school year started. I honestly thought that we would handle it best by taking a lot of time off and having things be really mellow and laidback. But what ended up working better with us was to start back into our regular routine after just a few short weeks. I was expecting a good 6-week babymoon, but after three weeks of my older kids being absolutely crazy and out-of-control, we got back into our previous rhythm as much as possible. I believe that this structure is what has saved us this year. Of course I did modify things somewhat and of necessity had to drop some elements of our homeschool that I just couldn’t deal with right then. But in general, getting our schooling life back to normal and keeping the older kids busy and their day structured actually made life so much easier! I’ve been blessed with a very mellow infant, so that has made things really doable.

  5. We have a blended family. My 6 YO son and my partners 15 YO daughter. My son is very sensitive and explosive. He struggles with self control on so many fronts. He is also very infatuated with his very “cool” and mainstream step sister. He cannot get enough of her when they are getting along. I have been working on him respecting her wishes to be alone @ times but he is struggling at accepting her rejections when she is not in the mood to have him hang out in her room. I understand 15 year olds need their space and privacy. The problem for my son is understanding why his step sister will invite him to play and hang out with her (usually because she wants to take cute pictures with him for her FB page or because she is on MSN and her friends think he is cute and funny) and after a certain amount of time, she will then say “ok, you can leave now” Her first request being civilized but quickly escalating to her picking him up, dropping him outside her room and slamming the door against him while yelling “GOOOOOOOOOOO!!!” For his part I am sure it is confusing, she was laughing and carrying on with him as he hammed it up for the camera but then when he tries to keep the silliness going by upping the ante with more goofiness she starts getting nastier. My step daughter is…. well, she has had a less than ideal upbringing and is extremely peer oriented. My partner and I do not see eye to eye on family and child rearing although we seem to be improving on this front in some ways. My step daughter says very inflammatory and hurtful things to my son. My son reacts explosively. If I speak to my stepdaughter about it when her Dad is not around she handles it quite well and her behaviour improves (He was gone two months for work this spring). If I say something while her Dad is around or if he speaks to her about it she argues, says its not fair that her stepbrother can say mean things (usually something along the lines of “I don’t like A….. !” or” A….. is mean!”) and she can’t fight back. She gets petulant and begins to whine and brings out the faked tears (no actual tears, just the big lip and quavery voice. She is almost 16- ten years older than he is. We have tried to point this out. Her favourite remark to her stepbrother is “You are acting like a 2 YO!” This sends him into a rage and eventually he dissolves into an inconsolable puddle on his bed. In my opinion, they are often both behaving like 4 or 5 year olds. It’s very frustrating.

    My son carries a grudge for days and will storm off to his room if she comes downstairs and refuses to eat at the table with her for days after an incident. As I work at calming him down and try to reason with him she will be saying snide and sarcastic remarks and egging him on, often just quiet enough that he can hear. If we say anything to her about it she’ll yell in an injured tone “What? He can’t go around saying he hates me, I didn’t do anything, I can’t even defend myself or fight back! This isn’t fair!”

    He was going to a Waldorf school where the kids quickly realized how fun and easy it was to set him off. He was ragged every day on the way home, sobbing and enraged over what the girls had said to him there. I decided a week ago to pull him out and home school him. Thereby eliminating what I felt was bullying. Now it is happening @ home. How do I handle this short of splitting up with my partner? I just want some peace @ home.

  6. Pingback: Some Ideas Regarding Sibling Relationships « The Parenting Passageway

  7. So much wonderful wisdom here!!!! My oldest was 5 when he beame a big brother. He happily snuggledad up next to me when I was nursing the baby, whether it was to read a book, talk, or just be.

    Now #2 just turned 3 and our youngest is 3 months, and boy – that was a whole other story! His energy just went through the roof and he was *not* happy snuggling next to me, he wanted to be ON me. The first 6 weeks were just hell. I cried every day. Then I realized I wasn’t losing it, I wasn’t baby blue or even entering a postpartum depression (although I feared I was), but I had lost my feeling of being the authority, of mastering motherhood really. Transitioning was really hard, I longed for the long gone days of our steady rhythm and peaceful but hectic days with my older kids.

    So. I read “everything” in the archives here and decided to take action and reclaim rhythm and authority, and also to forget being able to lie down in bed with my newborn (or rather, move newborn-snuggling to nighttime when dad is home). Slowly things improved drastically. I wear my newborn (not so newborn anymore, don’t know what happened) on my back and completely wear out my 3-year old, we work inside or outside and I make sure he’s moving and staying physically active the entire time. When baby gets fussy and starting to get hungry, we calm down and I transition 3-year old to drawing, playing by himself, or sitting next to me while I read to him and nurse the baby. When she’s full and content and he’s starting to feel energized again, baby goes up on my back for a nap and 3-year old helps me around the house.

    Peace is restored – but it *is* exhausting for me, I have to admit. I know these days will pass by so quickly though. I try to enjoy it and be mindful of how grateful I am for my children and this phase of my life.

    Sorry this got so long.

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