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Bringing Home Baby? How To Handle Sibling Rivalry

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A new baby brings a whole new dynamic to a family - and it can take some getting used to! A little sibling rivalry is a natural part of life, but as your family grows, keep these expert tips in mind to help smooth the transition:

1. Don’t make comparisons. Every child is unique and so is their progress. Avoid making any direct comparisons, even if they don’t seem like such a big deal.  Expressing surprise that your little boy hasn’t learned to tie his shoes yet because his sister had mastered it at that age only stokes sibling jealousy and insecurity.  

2. Let them settle their own differences. When it comes to the small things, like squabbling over a toy, it’s best to simply let your kids settle the issue amongst themselves.  Let them know that you what resolution you expect (“I’m going to step away from five minutes.  I expect you to find a way to share”) then let them learn to set boundaries and negotiate together.  This also helps ensure your kids won’t feel like you are taking one side over the other. It also teaches them problem-solving techniques they can use outside the home, too.

3. Reinforce cooperative behavior.  When you catch your kids working together to solve a problem or collaborating on a game, be sure to give positive reinforcement.  

4. Be sure to spend some individual time with each child.  You probably bond over different things which each kid, so take advantage of the chance to explore those interests one-on-one.  Also make sure that each child has some alone to pursue their own favorite activities.

4. Encourage your older child to help care for your younger one.  This can help strengthen the bond between siblings and will make your older child feel like a valuable part of the family functioning.

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