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Sibling Rivalry

Problems with siblings are a common concern of both children and their parents. Sixty-five percent of children report fights with their siblings that only decrease "some" after third grade and reduce "more significantly" after one of the

Many factors are associated with greater sibling rivalry, including opposite gender, difficult temperament, insecure pattern of attachment, family discord, corporal punishment, and, most importantly, perception of

The entrance of a new baby into the family is likely during the preschool years. How a child interacts with the new arrival in the first 3 weeks predicts interactions into the second year. More than 90% of children "regress" when a new baby is born, exhibiting behavioral changes of increased naughtiness, thumb sucking, and altered patterns of feeding, sleeping, or toileting that are considered by some to be signs of "imitation" of the newborn. These same types of responses occur under stress of any kind to the young child. The stress in this case entails separation and loss or threatened loss of the parents' love and attention as well as actual worries in older children over danger to the mother. Parents have been noted to become stricter in their discipline during and after pregnancy as well. sibling rivalry, sebling, fighting

On the other hand, children, like adults, experience excitement, love of the infant, and enhanced self-esteem through their relationships with a new sibling. Preparation for the sibling through sibling classes, avoidance of forced interactions and descriptions of the mother's pain during labor and delivery, a strong pre-existing relationship between the older child and the father, good support for the mother postpartum, individual time continued with each parent, and intense empathetic talk about the new baby's feelings and point of view have been shown to be helpful. Logical practices to assist adjustment to a new sibling include having visitors greet the older child first, providing presents for the older child, giving the child some role in caring for the infant, and allowing an attempt (albeit with an attitude of mild surprise) when the older child requests a

Interaction between siblings can be improved through prompt limiting of aggression toward the sibling, acknowledgment of the child's positive and negative feelings, reinforcement through praise, and teaching such strategies as distraction, trading, taking turns, and

Siblings can be encouraged to cooperate by having the parents show that they value cooperation by talking about it and commenting on its presence or absence, having the parents distract the children from irritated interactions, setting tasks with joint goals, promoting noncompetitive games, and working continually for

When siblings fight in spite of all efforts to guide positive relationships, it is important to know that parents' interventions tend to increase fighting several fold. Instead, a "graded" approach is better. Minor skirmishes are ignored if possible. More intense disputes can be handled by having the parent enter the scene, describe what is seen (especially the feelings and dynamics present), hear both sides briefly, then leave, stating confidence in the children's good intentions and ability to resolve it. More serious disputes should be handled similarly except that the children or the object of dispute should be removed. Physical battles require further actions, such as time-out for both children for the length of time appropriate for the younger child. Attempts to determine fault are