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Tue, Nov 08, 2011
The New Paper
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Give equal attention to stop sibling rivalry


My sons are seven and eight years old. When they are fighting over the same toy, I always ask the older boy to give in to his younger brother.

The elder boy always says: "Not fair!"

I've tried explaining to him that he is older and must always give in to his younger brother. But it doesn't work as I have been using the same line over and over again.

As for the younger boy, he says I love the older boy more than him when I hug and kiss my older son first.

How should we overcome rivalry between them for attention?

Could they be jealous of each other as they are only a year apart?

- Madam Hanisah Amin, 36, sales officer


Hang on. Telling your older child to give way simply because he is older doesn't cut the cake with this Nanny.

He cannot change his birth order, and therefore cannot change why he seems to be at the losing end of all arguments.

Perfect recipe for an angry, resentful child.

Julia Gabriel Centre for Learning and Chiltern House's principal director Fiona Walker points out that sibling rivalry is extremely common and especially so between two children of the same sex so close in age.

Ms Walker says a fairer way is to determine who had the toy first and allow that child to continue playing with it. If that doesn't work, a time frame of 10 to 15 minutes before a swop may make it fair.

Children are jealous when they feel more attention is spent on a sibling. While a little competition is good or normal, screaming and arguing kids do not make this Nanny's idea of a happy household.

One tip: Count out the hugs you give to each of them. They need to see you are being fair, so even counting out the number of hugs can show them that you love them equally.

All kids want attention from their parents. Explain to your kids that they need to take turns. Ask them to tell you if they are feeling ignored.

Then, you and your husband can take turns in spending one-on-one time with each child, enabling you to build a very special bond with each one.

This article was first published in The New Paper.

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