Sibling in the Spotlight

More Tips to Treat Your Kids Fairly

sibling in the spotlight

Brian Maranan Pineda

Carve Out "Just Us" Time
The easiest way to let your child know he's important? Spend time alone with him. It doesn't really matter what you do. "Just make sure you're getting some private space to talk and share feelings," says Frank Lawlis, Ph.D., author of Mending the Broken Bond: The 90-Day Answer to Developing a Loving Relationship With Your Child. On days when you've been busy, say, shuttling your daughter to physical therapy, take ten minutes as you tuck in your son to recap his day. Either you or your partner should also try to carve out at least an hour each week for a one-on-one activity with him -- like shooting hoops at the park. (Everyday errands can double as bonding time too. You might say, "Want to come with me to the market? I'd love to hang out together, and you can help choose something yummy for dinner.")

Finally, if you expect one child to steal even more stares than usual (perhaps her big gymnastics meet is this weekend), schedule a solo event for your other child soon afterward, says school psychologist Janet Dubner, of Chelmsford, Massachusetts. It'll be easier for him to sit back while his sister takes the stage if he knows he has a date with you or Dad coming up. (Just don't overcompensate and make your other kid jealous.)

Value the Child You've Got
All siblings compete, but if one of your kids is constantly getting praise it can magnify normal sibling rivalry. "If a child sees her sibling as 'good at everything,' she may even adopt the identity of being 'bad at everything,'" Dr. Lawlis notes. So avoid making comparisons. Keep in mind that every child has her own strengths; you can give your cutie's self-confidence a lift (while reducing competition) by pointing them out. "Remind her that she's special and tell her why," Verre says. Focus on what makes her unique, like her sense of humor or a knack for knowing how other people feel -- and how to cheer them up. Then let her know her abilities don't go unnoticed. ("You always make me smile when I have a bad day. I appreciate that -- and everyone in this family does too.")

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