What If They Hate Each Other? How to Foster Sibling Love

Image via Rachel Engel

Anyone not pregnant with their second child may assume that siblings come out loving each other and ready to play together. Then, once that plus sign pops up while you're sitting on the toilet in front of a babbling toddler, the doubts come crawling in. “What if they hate each other!?” you think in horror. These are the steps I have taken to try to foster love between my two littles.

Image via Rachel Engel

Start early.

The minute I saw the plus sign, my head went into overdrive. After a brief moment of panic (and a mild hyperventilation attack from the sheer shock of it all), I started talking to my then 2-year-old about the magic and wonder of babies. We bought baby dolls and made sure to love on them every day. We watched cartoons with siblings (Peppa and George from Peppa Pig are a great example!), and talked about how sweet they are to each other. Basically, we started flooding her with sibling love and baby love all the time. By the time we actually brought home her brother, she was positively giddy!

Image via Rachel Engel

Give constant praise, even for the smallest things.

Every time my daughter looked at her brother kindly, I told her how sweet she was, and what a wonderful big sister she is. She would pet his head, and I would exclaim over her softness, her gentle touch. She wanted to be near him all the time, because, I felt, she was proud of herself. She enjoyed seeing how happy I was when she was loving towards him, and she knew they were both special.

Image via Rachel Engel

Create space for two out of space for one.

Sometimes, I really did not want to balance my newborn in one arm and my toddler in the other, but there was no way I was saying no to her so early. Doing so made her see that my lap had plenty of space to hold her, and her brother; he wasn't taking over.

Image via Rachel Engel

Start sharing from day one.

I asked my daughter to show her brother her favorite toy. When he reached out his little newborn hand and barely touched it, I giggled and cooed, “Hoooowwww sweet!” I mean, laying it on thick. Guess what happened? She giggled and exclaimed over it, too, and wanted to give it to him.

Image via Rachel Engel

Take time to focus on each one individually.

While she was enjoying her brother, and loving how tiny he was, I didn't want to give her any chance to think that she was being replaced, or was losing out on love to him. In the afternoons after our youngest was born, when my husband would come home from work, he would take our daughter to the park. She would come bounding in, give me a hug, and then start telling her brother all about the fun she had.

My kiddos are still young, so I realize I have lots of siblings fights ahead of me, and I will one day remember a time when I wrote an article about how much my kids loved each other and roll my eyes. But, having several friends who introduce the second baby and immediately start having problems, I am savoring these sweet, sweet days of watching my daughter pet my son like he's a puppy, and encourage him when he tries to crawl.

{ MORE: Check Out These Safety Tips Before Purchasing Toddler Toys }

How do you foster sibling love? Share with us in the comments!

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What If They Hate Each Other? How to Foster Sibling Love

Rachel is a stay-at-home-mom to her 4-year-old daughter, Sydney, and her 18-month-old son, Jackson. Her writing can be found all over the web, mostly detailing her own parenting struggles and triumphs, as well as her life as the military spouse of an active-duty airman. She also writes about her life as as a special needs parent on her blog, Tales From the Plastic Crib, and spends an unnecessary amount of time on Twitter. ... More

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