How to help your kids adjust to new siblings

It's important for parents to help their other children or first-borns adjust to a new sibling, in order to avoid unhealthy family dynamics.

Clinical psychologist Khosi Jiyane says parents must recognise the anxiety that new siblings create and give the first-born child reassurance and validation.

She adds that this should also be applied to the introduction of step-siblings, half-siblings and other blended family scenarios.

Also read: How to stop sibling rivalry from poisoning your kids

Jiyane says that children often see the shifting of attention to new siblings as an emotional and psychological disinvestment in them.

According to Jiyane, sibling relationships are characterised by sharing as well as by give-and-take.

She explains that sibling rivalry and feelings of anxiety can start early on in childhood, even before childen can talk.

Read more: How to bring the best out of your misguided kids

When a new sibling becomes the primary focus, other children often feel a sense of loss or inadequacy, Jiyane adds.

She advises that young kids usually do not have the language to communicate their anxiety and can act out behaviourally.

Jiyane maintains that children need assurance and want to be told that they are still loved and still belong in the family.

Parents need to first recognise that in bringing another child into an existing child's space, they're going to cause anxiety in that child.

Khosi Jiyane, Clinical psychologist

Parents have to be very conscious of some subtle and sometimes overt signs that the child is feeling anxious.

Khosi Jiyane, Clinical psychologist

Keep assuring them all the time that they still belong, even as they grow older.

Khosi Jiyane, Clinical psychologist

The essence of siblingship is sharing. It's a shared space.

Khosi Jiyane, Clinical psychologist

The sibling becomes a space of learning about yourself, learning about other and how to navigate the spaces in between yourself and others.

Khosi Jiyane, Clinical psychologist

We all have our own interpretative filters, things are bound to be misinterpreted, misconstrued.

Khosi Jiyane, Clinical psychologist

It's given that there will be conflict between siblings, it's how we navigate that space and deal with the journey of understanding ourselves and each other.

Khosi Jiyane, Clinical psychologist

Listen to the discussion with stand-in host Sizwe Mpofu-Walsh:


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