All of us, as children, had those silly squabbles we still can’t remember to this day. Our children are no different, only now it’s our turn to play referee. Maybe this playbook can give you the guidance you need to stop your kids from fighting.
Make friends before the baby is born
If you are expecting a new baby, but you already have a toddler or even a young school age child, try these steps to avoid fighting before it can even begin.
- Allow your oldest to be engaged in getting ready for the new baby.
- Help set up the baby’s room, pick out the baby’s first outfit back home. Whatever you can do so that your oldest doesn’t feel left out.
Talk to the baby
Just like mom will talk to her tummy before the baby is born, let your oldest child have a little chat with their new brother or sister; they will feel more connected to the baby this way.
Let the first meeting between siblings be a special one
When the baby is born, allow the older sibling(s) to have a special private moment to meet the baby. Make sure it’s a special occasion; you want them to know they are both very important to you.
Now you are home from the hospital, and you don’t want your new baby’s needs to outdo your toddler and cause tension. What can you do to avoid anger towards the new baby? You can start by helping to create bonding moments to eliminate some of the arguing as they get older.
Allow your toddler easy access to you when feeding or holding the baby
Whenever you have a moment with the new baby that allows time with your older child too, take it. I know being a parent is exhausting and having a newborn is even more exhausting, but this could be a moment for all of you to cuddle and unwind.
- Sit in a comfortable spot on the floor while feeding the baby so your toddler can cuddle up next to you and maybe even help with feeding if possible.
- Even if your breastfeeding, you can still find ways that work for you to allow your oldest to help
- Maybe on the bed or a comfy spot in the family room, get cozy, and watch your oldest child’s favorite show or movie. Make sure the baby is right there (even if they aren’t interested and would rather sleep).
Find ways that your oldest can help with the new baby
Having any kind of help with a new baby is such a nice thing. Find ways that your oldest can help with the new baby, you get help, and they get a bonding moment.
- Let them assist in changing diapers (when possible)
- Try having your oldest grab a new diaper or pull some wipes out and hand them to you. Any little thing they can do to help will make them feel special.
- If your bottle feeding, let your oldest help hold the bottle or even maybe assist in burping the baby.
Helping mommy with baby
When my two oldest girls were younger (they’re 10 years old and 12 years old now), my oldest always wanted to help when it came to her baby sister. Sometimes I felt like there was no way I could make extra time for my oldest at baby’s feeding time.
At first, I would give my oldest a distraction and bottle feed the baby, but she quickly lost interest and wanted to help.
My daughter already thought it was odd because she was strictly breastfed, and her sister had a bottle. After a few times, she wanted to help, so I would have her sit with her baby sister and me and help hold the bottle or wipe milk that slipped out of the baby’s mouth.
It made my oldest so happy to be able to help mommy with the new baby, and it gave her a chance to chat with the baby as well (even if I didn’t understand most of it); it was their special bonding time.
Your little ones are growing up, and they are starting to bicker a lot more than before. One is always more upset than the situation calls for, and the other thinks screaming and crying will solve the situation.
Sometimes a good old fashion nap time is needed, just like adult little ones get cranky when they’re tired. The arguing could have nothing to do with their sibling, but they just happen to be in the crossfires.
- Give your little one their favorite blanky or stuffy and lay them down for some calm nappy time.
- Try making nap time fun. Maybe make tents out of sheets and cozy up together for a book and a nap. Make up different ways to cut down the bickering and turn up the calm.
My two oldest girls were having a day where no matter what one said, the other was going to get upset no matter what. After listening to the bicker back and forth for almost 20 minutes, while attempting to pick up toys, I had to step in.
I made them stop cleaning and sit in their room together for a set amount of time. After that amount of time, I ask them each to say one thing they love about each other. It took a little while, but they finally did it.
Needless to say, our house was a much nicer place for the rest of the evening.
Set a time limit for
When you give them time together, try setting a time limit. After your set time, let them continue what they were doing. Sometimes they just need a moment to regroup.
Sometimes, your little ones just need time to breathe and center themselves. Just like adults, sometimes, you just need a second to gather yourself.
A great book to read to your children during an argumentative moment is: “Siblings, You’re stuck with each other, So stick together” By James J. Crist, Ph.D., & Elizabeth Verdick.
Allow the children some time apart from one another. After a set amount of time, allow them to naturally start playing again. Children get over situations like siblings arguing quicker than adults. Just give them some time.
Talking about the situation
Sometimes, all a child wants is to be heard, who doesn’t. Allow each child a moment to explain their side uninterrupted. Even if your little one is just getting the hang of making full sentences, let them have a little voice too
Sometimes just knowing that mommy or daddy just took a moment to listen to you is a big deal. Show them you see and hear them both during an argument.
Make the older sibling feel special
- Take the time to allow your oldest to feel special. This isn’t taking away from the younger one(s) but showing your oldest that you haven’t forgotten about them. As a mom of five, I’m always trying to balance, allowing each of my children a special moment just for them, not just on birthday either.
- Take them out. Maybe to get some ice cream or even just a quick playtime at the park or beach. Take a moment to celebrate them just for being themselves.
- Sit down and watch their favorite movie/show with them. Make a time where you two are together enjoying a movie/show together.
- Read a book together. Have your child pick out their favorite book and cuddle up together for a nice moment alone.
- Sit down with them and play their favorite game. Whether it’s a tea party or finding buried treasure, enjoy their favorite way to unwind and have fun.
Turn a stressful situation into a funny moment.
When things are getting a little heated among the siblings, try to turn it into a funny situation.
- Make a joke
- Tickle time
- Make up a funny dance
- Try on a silly voice
Whatever you think will switch your little ones from furious to funny, try it and see if it helps the tension.
Try to start the day as positive as possible.
Mornings are the most important part of the day. Having a bad morning could ruin your whole day. Try to keep mornings positive for you and your little ones.
- Eat of good breakfast
- Make mornings fun! Try a fun new food or make up a morning song—anything to make mornings less of a drag and more exciting.
Remind your children that siblings are forever
A sibling is usually your first real friend. You live together during the first half of your life; you share the same parents, sometimes even the same room. So teaching your children that not only are they siblings forever, but they are each other’s first real friends.
Parents need to behave also
- Showing your children a united front will allow them to see that peace can be had.
- Don’t argue in front of your children (or where they can even hear it).
- If you are going through a negative time as a parent (which we all sometimes have), don’t be scared to ask for help.
Conclusion: Being a parent isn’t easy
Being a parent is stressful; as a mom of 3, I completely understand the stresses. Sometimes we feel like we can handle anything thrown our way when it comes to our children. The truth is sometimes we do need help.
Don’t be afraid to reach out for help when you need it. As your kids get older, the arguing gets more intense, and you have to have more age-appropriate ways to handle it. For now, while they’re still your little duckling, try these tips to help them get along and hopefully have a peaceful home.