Building a Family
The sibling relationship lasts longer than all other relationships. The sibling relationship will last longer than the parent child relationship and longer than the partner relationship as well. So preparing your toddler for a sibling is critical for their long term relationship.
As a parent it is challenging to create an ideal environment for siblings. An environment where children can be children and yet also develop a lasting sibling relationship. Here are some thoughts that may help you to foster that relationship.
5 critical needs of children:
- Children need to feel included. They need to feel like they have a role and can contribute. One way of doing this is to allow your toddler to pick an outfit to stress the newborn in or listen to them when they tell you the baby needs something.
- Children need to feel respected. Even when they don’t act like it, children need to feel respected. It can be hard to acknowledge your child’s emotions when they are misbehaving but it is the fastest way to correct poor behavior. “Tommy you must be really mad to have his your sister. What are you mad about?”
- Children need to feel important. Set aside time each and everyday too give each child alone time. It can be reading a book, bath time, or even a special cuddle time.
- Children need to feel accepted. They want to be included in decisions and activities. “Tommy should we go to the park before or after the post office?”
- Children need to feel secure. Safety and love is a critical need for all humans no matter how small. Consider your daily lives from he child’s point of view. Is there anything you could adjust?
4 parenting goals for children:
- Avoid playing favorites. This was a parenting trap that I kept stepping into with out being aware of it. Each child is special and offers unique blessings and challenges.
- Avoid comparisons. Honor each child’s differences and uniqueness. Easier said than done, especially when your kids are the same sex. But each child is special and their own needs and uniquenesses. Honor what is special about each of them.
- Don’t label children or assign them roles. How many times have you heard- “He is so athletic”, or ‘She’s so smart, see how all she wants to do it look at books?”. It sounds silly out of context but pay attention to your language especially when the child can over hear you.
- Don’t assume all sibling conflict is bad or requires intervention. Conflict is normal and it teaches strategy and resolution skills. In fact it is said that normal 5-7 year olds will have 3 conflicts a HOUR! My personal role of thumb is not stay out of it whenever possible, unless there is blood or a broken bone. Can you tell I have raised two boys? 🙂
Some further resources: