Sibling Rivalry - East Coast Mums Support Group meeting
The East Coast Mums Support Group met on 11 September to share ideas on the topic of Sibling Rivalry. Leading the discussion was family counselor, Vinti Mittal. Vinti is an experienced counselor who works with children of all ages, their parents and teachers in local and international schools in Singapore.
Twenty-one mums (six of them with bumps) and eight kids came to the event at Baci at Katong i12. As most of the mums were concerned with the introduction of a newborn to the family, Vinti focussed the discussion on that.
Tips on dealing with sibling rivalry
Announce your pregnancy when you’re ready she advised. Much depends on the maturity of the older child(ren). It’ll help if you involve them in the preparations for baby’s arrival. Ask for their thoughts on names, position of cot etc.
Be ready to expect an adjustment period. Some children display signs of regression (eg. bedwetting) and this is normal.
Help them get used to the idea of “wait” as there will be many occasions when the immediate needs of the newborn will take priority. Be patient with the older child as (s)he adjusts to receiving less attention.
Some parents successfully use a doll to demonstrate how things will be and allow the older child(ren) to “practice” caring for the baby through the doll.
Keep reading for more tips on managing sibling rivalry.
Manage your child’s expectation. They may think they are getting a playmate like a friend at school. Do explain visually (with books, youtube, family albums) what a baby will look like and that the baby will not be able to play for some time. But that the baby will grow just like the older sibling and be able to participate in time.
Make sure you orchestrate the welcoming of the baby with your child. Having a gift from the baby to the older sibling at the first greeting after birth will ease the transition immeasurable as the child is excited about the gift and the new baby. Make sure that you are not holding the new baby when your older child(ren) come to see you after birth. Be available to hug and kiss them without distraction. This direct attention at the beginning will allay their fears that the baby’s arrival is a threatening event.
Plan one-on-one time with the older child(ren) whenever your baby doesn’t directly need you. Try to schedule some time when your husband or parent or helper can take the newborn so that you can spend some quality time with each of the older children. Even 20 minutes every day will make a difference.
Expect to feel some guilt about the lack of time and attention given to the older children. But don’t give in to it. It all evens out in the end. Make sure each child gets some time with you and all will be well.
Mums share their success stories on managing sibling rivalry on the next page.
Pregnant mum Nadine Marty-Staub asked about how to deal with breastfeeding while giving time to the older child(ren) and the answers from the group were fabulous. Nitu Tewari, mum of two, had it set up as story time with the older child. So whenever she breastfed, her older child would come tell her a story. Clare Mann told the group that she had used a sling extensively for her second child so she could free her hands to deal with the first. Using a Miracle Bjorn carrier, Clare even breastfed in her sling so that she could spend more time with her older child.
The East Coast Mums Support Group is an online mums support group that came offline to share ideas with each other. Many new friendships were made and the ladies are looking forward to more sharing events in the future.
This session was facilitated by Vinti Mittal, an experienced counselor who is one of the few counsellors working with preschool children and parents. With her collaborative style, Vinti brings all the key players in a child's upbringing together to deal with socio-economic, behavioral and academic issues that some children face. She also volunteers her time and expertise with several charities including the Singapore Children's Society, the Disabled People's Association and AWARE. She can be contacted at Body with Soul on 6779 4005.
The East Coast Mum’s Support group is an open Facebook group for mums in the east coast of Singapore. The mums share a great deal of knowledge and experience with each other in this group and there is a healthy marketplace for pre-loved items. There are over 3,000 members that are part of the ECMSG.
We are looking for volunteers to help organise future events. Please contact ECMSG administrator Lavinia Thanapathy [email protected] to volunteer.
If you have particular sibling rivalry issues with your children, please share them with us. We’d also love to hear your tips for dealing with sibling rivalry.