Siblings

What is the best way for siblings to share a room?

4 kids

Talk with your older child about the situation and involve him or her in setting up the new space. If you involve the child in the design and decisions about the new space, that child has some control and ownership for a smooth transition.

Clearly distinguish the older child’s space from the new baby’s space and explain the idea of privacy for each.

Sharing a room is often a bonus for young children. When a young child awakens to see a brother or sister in the room at night, he or she is more likely to roll over and go back to sleep. Children also have someone to talk to before falling asleep and upon waking up.

What can I do to nurture a new sibling relationship?

Involve the older child in pre-birth preparations. For example, if the child wants to help by reading, choose books from the child’s own collection he or she is willing to pass on to the baby and arrange a book space for the baby’s things. Talk with your child about expectations for the baby; children often expect an instant playmate and become disappointed when they realize that the baby cannot play the way the child might expect.

Your older child may regress in some areas — bedwetting, whining, crying, baby talking and demanding the bottle or breast. That’s a child’s way of getting your attention. Be patient; remind your older child of all he or she can do that the baby cannot. This helps a child’s sense of independence.

Talk with your older child frequently about feelings. Anger and frustration often accompany the change that a new sibling brings. Respect the child’s feelings and help identify appropriate ways to act out. For example, it is all right to bite a chew toy when frustrated, but not all right, of course, to bite the baby.

How should I divide my attention between a new baby and my older child?

Your older child might need and demand attention after the baby arrives, especially in the first few weeks. Ask a friend, relative or neighbor for help to ensure the needs of both children are met. Spend at least 10 minutes a day with the older child. Try to make it the same time each day so the child can learn to anticipate and depend on that “together” time. Talk with your older child about things that do not involve the new baby. Remind visitors that the older child needs attention, too.

Sibling Relationships:

  • Positive sibling relationships early in life are associated with higher quality social skills with peers.
  • Friendly behavior toward a younger sibling by an older sibling was associated with the younger sibling’s development of relatively mature behavior in both conflictual and cooperative situations.
  • Strong sibling relationships are a source of fun, satisfaction and support while children are young and represent a source of social support over the course of life.
  • Peer Relationships:
    • Social interactions with peers build on and refine rules and norms of social interaction that children first encounter in their families.
    • Peer relationships can provide cognitive, social and physical stimulation through joint activities and conversations.
    • Children who have poor peer relationships are at risk for later-life difficulties, especially school dropout and criminal behavior.
    • Good friendships are one of life’s pleasures and can buffer against mental problems and destructive behaviors.
    • Respecting time alone. Everyone needs time to be alone. For many, it’s a time to rejuvenate. For others, it’s a time to reflect. And for still others, time alone is simply a time to rest.

This does not have to mean time spent in complete solitude or silence. It might be time focused on a hobby. It might be dreaming time. But it is time that is undisturbed.

It is important for a child’s development of persistence and follow-through to be given uninterrupted times of play and thought.

It is important for your sense of sanity and self-understanding that you have uninterrupted times of play and thought. Having your own alone time is as important as giving your child that time.