Sibling relationship is one of the most discussed topics of pedagogy; birth of a sibling, sibling jealousy, competition between siblings and positive / negative emotions towards each other…
It is sure that parents are the guide that children need in order to grow a healthy relationship with their siblings.
How to behave to children who just got a sibling?
A new born baby can mean a lot of different things for the elder child. First of all, they can feel the fear of losing mother’s love or splitting of her care. They can think like; “Mother’s love should be like a cake, one of the pieces will be gone, so what will remain for me?” and this childish-material way of thinking might create the thread of a decreasing amount of love. Noticing this kind of fear at the beginning and telling children that parents’ love is a something that never decreases but always increases is essential. Or, children who think mother’s love as a cake, might perceive new born sibling as someone who steals the love from them.
This situation might be valid also for the new born sibling. As they grow up, it is important to make sure that they also know parents’ love doesn’t decrease by sharing it with a sibling. Parents should be in a warm, caring relationship with their children and show that love is not a limited source which needs competition, but a source that always increases.
Words like “I will not love you anymore, I’ll love your sister/brother” or “I won’t love you if you behave like this” would create competition for love between children. In this scenario, it is very hard for children to see each other something other than fighting warriors for parents’ attention.
In some cases, one of the parents might contribute the competition without knowing. Especially in the first two years that the bound between mother and child is very strong, father might feel left out and might unwillingly strengthen older child’s fears. This might create an unhealthy grouping in the house as father-older child and mother- new born child.
Explaining children that having a sibling means partnership for life, love, similarity and friendship should be done first by words, and then by actions. Games and activities that will support partnership between siblings should be created. Parents should teach that being sibling doesn’t only mean being close relatives, but also the strongest bound one can find.