Kim Kardashian comes under fire frequently for everything from her fashion choices to her parenting style. But one of her latest parenting challenges is one many parents can relate to: sibling rivalry.
During her Aug. 28 appearance as co-host on "Live with Kelly and Ryan," Kardashian revealed that her 4-year old daughter North isn’t a fan of her 1-year old brother, Saint. Kardashian admitted that while, at first she thought it was just a phase, North’s jealously of Saint doesn’t seem to be going anywhere.
It can be hard for older kids when a new baby arrives and (in their minds) steals their spotlight and parents’ attention. Eileen Kennedy-Moore — a child psychologist and author of multiple books, including "Growing Friendships, A Kids Guide to Making And Keeping Friends" — says: “I don't think parents can really prepare older children for the birth of a sibling. Their lives will change in a way that they (and their parents) can’t imagine.”
But don't lose hope. There are ways to help kids adjust to a new sibling.
- Don’t try to convince an older child that the arrival of a new sibling is a good thing. Instead, Kennedy-Moore suggests that parents give their older child a little “babying” as they adjust to the new family dynamic. “It's common for children to regress by acting younger than their age when they feel stressed," she says." Definitely don't expect your older child to suddenly become more mature and responsible.”
- Invite the older child to help with the baby but don't insist on it. Kennedy-Moore says: “Show the older child gentle ways to interact with the baby, such as touching his feet or turning on a the music mobile. Be effusive and say things such as, ‘The baby sure likes you!’”
- Find ways to make your older child feel special. Those early days with a newborn are hectic. But make sure that when people come over to see the baby, they also compliment the older child. Try to schedule some one-on-one time doing activities with just your older child: Even small activities like a tea party or board game for “big kids only” can make kids feel special.
- As the baby grows up, continue to encourage the children to spend time together but don’t be upset if they sometimes don’t get along. “Research tells us that what predicts a positive sibling relationship isn't how much they argue but how much fun they have together,” says Kennedy-Moore. “Parents may want to start a game with both kids and then back off, letting the children continue to play together.”
Even with the best intentions and parent encouragement, some siblings just don’t get along. Kardashian shared her disappointment that North doesn’t enjoy playing with her little brother and sometimes makes him cry — especially since growing up she had such a close relationship with her own siblings.
While it’s natural to want your kids to be close, avoid sharing your disappointment with them. Try to create opportunities for shared family fun, instead. Praise positive interactions by saying things like, “That was really nice the way you shared your toy.” If children continue to have a difficult time getting along, parents need to be sure to supervise them extra closely so no one gets hurt.
Above all, be careful not to play favorites or blame one child for the animosity between siblings.
Let your children know that you love them individually even if they don’t get along with each other. As children grow up, their personalities may become more compatible. Many siblings don’t become close until they are adults, so there’s still hope for Kardashian — and your own embattled kids.
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