Sibling Rivalry: 4 Tips for Raising Kids with Big Age Differences

2. Be careful that you don't fuss over your younger child and forget how your older children feel.
It's not uncommon for your older children to resent the attention the younger one receives, causing them to be resentful and intolerant of the younger sibling. This is a legitimate gripe for many older children, and when necessary, parents would do well to provide a sympathetic ear, rather than dismissing these concerns.

3. Teach your older children about tolerance, understanding, and patience for their younger sibling.
Younger children admire and crave attention and respect from their older siblings and therefore feel confused and hurt if they are rejected. For example, if a teenager is furious that her five-year-old sister took her makeup, CD, or clothes, parents can take the time to show her that she only did it because she wants to be just like her older sister. While this may not help completely, it will give the teenager an opportunity to be forgiving and to feel flattered that she is a role model.

4. Protect the privacy and belongings of older children.
Provide them with shelves and closets to store important belongings. Furthermore, younger siblings need to be taught that they can't touch things that don't belong to them or go in their brother's or sister's room without permission. Older children that feel respected by their parents are much less likely to be intolerant of younger siblings. When mutual respect is cultivated, siblings can become friends even when they are separated by many years.

From the book Midlife Motherhood: A Woman-to-Woman Guide to Pregnancy and Parenting, by Jann Blackstone-Ford (published by St. Martin's Griffin). Interested in finding out more about raising kids in your 30s or 40s? Visit Jann Blackstone-Ford on the Ask the Midlife Mom Expert message board.

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