How to Stop Sibling Struggles
Why toddlers cause sibling clashes and how to keep the peace between your kids
TODDLER + KID
Spats over stuff
When your baby becomes a toddler, no matter what the ages of her big sibs, chances are they won't want their runny-nosed, grubby-handed sis to touch their stuff. Minimize the struggles by:
Keeping dangerous and breakable items, such as older siblings' pencil sharpeners and handheld video games, out of your toddler's reach.
Putting toys that belong to siblings in separate toy boxes, closets, high shelves, or other containers.
Keeping your toddler out of her older siblings' rooms whenever possible, even if it means having them close the door.
Letting the kid who touched it first play with it first for a set amount of time before turning it over. Try using a timer -- it may help train your toddler not to stand next to the sib with the coveted item, stamping her feet and screeching.
He started it!
You're going to hear this one for a long time. You turn around as one kid clocks the other, so you punish him, and then he shouts it isn't fair because your toddler started it. Nip it in the bud by:
Having zero tolerance for pushing, hitting, and so on, even if it's the little one smacking the big one. Sternly, but calmly, warn the offender not to hit, and remove him from the room for a short time-out.
Not refereeing. Unless things are getting so heated that hitting might soon follow, stay out of your kids' conflicts and see if they can work things out for themselves. If you need to step in, there's no point in getting to the bottom of who did what (unless someone has clearly injured someone else). Just break it up and move on. If you always jump in to referee, you'll find yourself the star of your very own Judge Judy show.
Splitting them up. Remember what your mom told you: "If you can't play nicely, you can't play at all."
Excerpted from Stop Second-Guessing Yourself--The Toddler Years: A Field-Tested Guide to Confident Parenting, by Jen Singer. Copyright © 2009 by Jen Singer. Used with the permission of the publisher, Health Communications, Inc., hcibooks.com. All rights reserved.