If you have or are currently experiencing sibling jealousy between your children you know only too well how that can impact everything in day to day life, including a little one’s ability to sleep well. This week I’m sharing with you my top tips and tricks to help you to relieve some of that jealous feeling that can happen between siblings. Hopefully by the end of this blog you will have a plan for how to get your children to a stage where they are a lot more harmonious in spending their time together.
First things first, is that this can come up at any age. It can be something that happens right from birth when, let’s say, a toddler has the arrival of a new baby sibling, and they’re like, “Huh, who’s this that’s getting all the attention?” That’s really common. It can also crop up later on in childhood, and especially with siblings who are relatively close in age, because they may feel like they are competing for the same attention. Sibling jealousy is probably going to come up at some point, but what can you do about it?
I have two really big ideas for you on this that I’ve found work and actually having two quite close in age myself, I’ve found these things really, really do work. Quite often, that jealous behavior, or almost probing or lashing out, winding up the other one, it’s actually really just a cry for your attention, and if they had your attention, they wouldn’t be doing it.
What can you do? One on one time. Give your children your time one on one, at least once a day.
Just find that special time that you can have where you can be fully present with them and completely indulge them in whatever it is they are doing, and what they’re about. Tap into who they are. Now, this doesn’t matter whether they are a tiny little one, little toddler, or a five, six, seven, eight, nine, 10, 11 year old. It really doesn’t matter. Teenagers and beyond. Doesn’t matter what age they are.
What is it that you can discover about them? What can you ask them? How can you show a massive interest in who they are as a little human being, and spend time with them one on one?
Maybe you have a baby who’s napping and you can then spend that time with the toddler. And of course the baby’s going to get plenty of one on one time, because they get all the cuddles when they’re feeding and all those other bits of one on one attention anyway. Quite often it’s giving the extra focus on the older ones, ones that are past the baby stage. If you have children who are both older, maybe six and eight or something like that, then great. Spend one on one time with each of them.
One on one time is always key, but especially at bedtime. Having bedtime one on one time is so important. Quite often, little ones keep everything in until bedtime, and then they let it out. So when they become of school age, it could be bedtime when they reveal things to you. Worries, thoughts, or just sharing good things that happened, quite often they do save it up to that time of night. If you can allow time for that in each of the bedtime routines, as well as the during the day one on one time so that you can have that little bit of chat one on one, and then say goodnight.
When they’re little babies and toddlers, then it’s probably going to be a story, a book, a bit of wind down time and can form part of that routine. But if you can give that full focus to one child at a time, then they’re going to be less likely to feel that jealousy or envy over the other one.
Be aware on the flip side, if you are trying to read a story to this one and then you have to say, “No, no, no, don’t do this,” or, “Wait over there,” or, “One second, I just need to get the baby.” If you’re trying to juggle multiple children at once, and one child feels a little bit dismissed because of that, that could lead to that envy. “Oh, it’s not fair. They get all the attention.” They don’t necessarily compute that it’s the other child getting the attention and that they will get their own time too. They just have this almost subconscious resentment towards those interruptions that are coming their way.
If you are on your own and you’re thinking, “That all sounds great, but how do I do that when I’m juggling more than one child by myself?” There is a blog on it’s way this month all about that, how to juggle more than one child through a bedtime routine, especially if you are doing it by yourself. For now, start to think about how you can build little one-on-ones in. It can be a baby safely in a cot whilst you’re giving a toddler a few minutes of your time or asking the toddler to wait a few moments. It can be done, it’s about finding the ways that you can do it.
My other top tip for overcoming sibling jealousy is what activities can those siblings do together? So it’s not just about the one on one time with you, but what can they do together to build that bond, and to help them like each other? And to want to spend time together so that they’re not seeing each other so much as a threat or an annoyance or someone that gets in their way. Instead they see each other as somebody they enjoy spending time with. So what activities, age appropriately, can they do? There will be something. There always is. Have a think about that and how they can bond and spend some time together.
I hope these ideas really help you, and help you to focus on how your children can overcome any sibling jealousy.
Take care and sleep well.
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