SIBLING RIVALRY, how it manifests and ways it can be handled!




‘It was meant to be an eagerly awaited moment, something that had been told to me a hundred times over and one that I was looking forward to. I was ecstatic when I saw her, my little sister, someone I believed I could play with, and take along in my own little journey, someone who would become my own little playmate. Yet, as the days passed, I could feel a gradual anger building up, a resentment that I could not put a finger to. It may have been because of the attention meant for me that was not coming my way or the fact that it was assumed I would do chores that I had never done before. Whatever the case, I was sad and angry and totally unable to cope’. These words by a 40 something dad conveys how real SIBLING RIVALRY really is, and how deep-rooted it can become if not handled properly. Also, it tells us how it can carry on lifelong, filling the person with pain and resentment and difficulty in expressing.

Rivalry among siblings is normal, happens in most families and generally tends to resolve as the children grow. Much of it though depends on when it is identified, how it is handled by parents and other family and what measures are taken to give the children involved that sense of security and understanding.

Some siblings react with words, lashing out at the other. This is done most often by the physically weaker one, while the stronger sibling reacts with physical beating.

As psychotherapist Philip Hodson says, “Siblings fight because one has displaced another. Both become aware that Charles Darwin was right. They have entered an evolutionary struggle for the milk supply (also known as the love supply) and a contest for endorsement. Underneath all this is the fear of being rejected or abandoned by their parents so that the most desperate youngsters remain relentlessly hostile – and a nightmare to live with.”

Sibling Rivalry can be mild or severe and is most often displayed among toddlers and pre-schoolers in the below behaviour;

  • Attention seeking – Shouting, Interrupting, Throwing toys
  • Aggressive behaviour – Hitting, Biting
  • Regressive behaviour – Clinging, wetting their pants even though toilet trained for many months.

Although a child might have been told about the new arrival, it is difficult for them to understand the situation until their sister/brother actually arrives. The younger they are, it gets tough for them to handle the changes at home and cope with it.

Girl Jealous of Mother and Sister

There are some other potential sibling rivalry behaviours that can be be seen on the arrival of a baby which include;

  • Throwing tantrums, showing anger and aggression
  • Ignoring the new arrival
  • Refusing to use the toilet, wanting nappies or to be bottle-fed
  • Disinterest in activities once enjoyed
  • Unbelievably difficult behaviour
  • Excessive demands
  • Very withdrawn and more clingy
  • Waking up in the middle of the night and sometimes even bed wetting
  • Change in sleeping patterns & wanting to sleep with parents

The arrival of a baby is life-altering for parents, but even more so for a child. There are some things though, can be done to prepare your toddler or pre-schooler well in advance. These include;

  • Getting your toddler or pre-schooler to interact with very young babies
  • Read story books about babies or pretend-play with baby dolls
  • Take your toddler and pre-schooler to pre-natal and antenatal visits
  • Allow the child to help you organize the baby’s bed and other material
  • Start the child on a regular school routine much before the new arrival
  • Treat the arrival of the baby as a shared excitement, involving the older kid in almost everything. Don’t get overly excited though, since children are not accustomed to it and may react negatively


Besides the pre-delivery phase, it is important to manage the child even during the delivery. Handling the situation well, ensures the child feels safe and secure even during this period of upheaval.

  • Inform your child before going to hospital, even if required in the middle of the night. Disappearing without warning may cause sleep problems in the future.
  • Cuddle your older child and shower him with attention before introducing the new member
  • Make the older child visit you regularly even if he has to leave you at the end of it
  • Involve the older one in anything to do with the baby. Ask him to guess what the new sibling is feeling (hungry, happy, cold). This helps in bonding and ensures the older child treats his sibling as someone with feelings.
  • Constant reassurance that mommy loves both the kids despite sharing time between them can help displace feelings of insecurity.
  • Regular, although brief periods of bodily contact like hugs and cuddles also lessens the insecurity.
  • Remember to gradually increase the work that you start to expect from the older ones. The arrival of a new baby can be a very confusing for them and they tend to be unprepared for it.
  • Reinforce positive behaviour by praising for a job well done
  • Involve the older child in caring for the new arrival, making them fetch things, practicing supervised play, etc.
  • Keep aside some amount of special uninterrupted time for each child
  • Consistency from both parents in using family rules is very important
  • Set a daily routine for the older child. He will feel safe and know what to expect
  • Always keep up your promises
  • Remind people; family and friends discreetly to acknowledge both children when they visit.
  • End each day with special time for the older kid and always on a positive note, focusing on positive behaviour displayed through the day


CHILD SEXUAL ABUSE- If you don’t stop it, who will??


An issue which we do not like to discuss or even think about, CHILD SEXUAL ABUSE (CSA), is alarmingly common in India and around the world. As recent news reports have brought to our attention, the majority of abusers are someone known to the child, or in a position of trust and responsibility.


Good communication is important. Listening to our children allows them to share their feelings and concerns with us.

Childhood should be a carefree time and we don’t want to worry our children, but we need to give them some guidelines on keeping safe, in a way that is appropriate for their age and understanding. Try adding simple conversations into your normal routine about staying safe.

The UK charity NSPCC has developed The Underwear (or P.A.N.T.S) rule as a guideline for talking to your child.




The majority of children do not report abuse. They may fear they will not believed or have been threatened by their abuser not to tell anyone.

Changes in a child’s behaviour may be the first sign that something is wrong.

One or two of the following changes may be a normal part of development but more should raise suspicion of possible abuse:

  • Nightmares or sleeping problems
  • Becoming withdrawn or unusually clingy
  • Changes in personality, become more insecure
  • Problems with studies or missing school
  • Excessive anger
  • Sexual language or behaviour (inappropriate for the child’s age)
  • Going back to younger behaviours such as thumb sucking or bed-wetting
  • Sudden changes in eating habits
  • Become secretive, not talking
  • Shows signs of fear of, or avoids being alone with, a particular adult.


It takes a lot of courage for a child to confide in someone. Even then they may not be able to tell exactly what has happened. If the adult does not believe the child, or makes them feel ashamed, they may never risk telling anyone again and the abuse will continue.

For example, a child may say, “I don’t like that Uncle.”

If the adult replies “How can you speak like that, don’t be so rude!” the child will feel scared and not give any further information.

However, if the adult responds, “I see, what happened?” the child is able to reveal the reason, which may, or may not arouse suspicion.
An abused child wants two things:

  • to be believed
  • for the abuse to stop

If a child confides in you about abuse

  • Acknowledge the child’s feelings and praise them for having the courage to come and tell you.
  • Tell the child it is not his or her fault. Do not blame or accuse the child, even if they did not report the abuse when it started – the abuser is the one at fault.
  • Do not ask the child to “forgive” “forget” or “adjust”
  • Do not confront the alleged abuser – it may give them an opportunity to silence, confuse or threaten the child about speaking out. It may also place the child in danger.
  • Tell the child that you would like to take the help of other trusted adults (close family members, child welfare services, medical professionals or police) to help, with the child’s permission.

Childline has a national toll-free number – 1098 – which an adult who is concerned about a child can call for help and advice.



In Bangalore, 3 new Collaborative Child Response Units have recently been set up at M.S. Ramaiah Hospital, Bangalore Baptist Hospital and KIMS Hospital. They liaise between children, their families, doctors and other authorities to provide medical, psycho-social and legal assistance. More CCRU’s are to be set up in other districts of Karnataka. It is possible to contact the CCRU’s directly, but they also receive referrals from the police, Child Welfare Services and Childline.






POTTY TRAINING; two words that most mums dread, but have to face at some point of time in their lives! A childhood milestone that is eagerly awaited, training your little one to poop can also be a very stressful experience, as most moms will tell you, and one that does not have just a SINGLE RIGHT METHOD.

Whether this is your first child and you are just getting started with it, or are already in the middle of it, there are few facts that you need to get right. Call them rumours from well-meaning elders or potty training myths, these most often unscientific and pre-conceived notions which many of us approach this all-important milestone with, can very often prolong the process and can stress you and your child both, often unnecessarily.

Let us try to see what these myths are, and how we can work around them;

MYTH #1: Potty Training must be started when your child turns 2 (or even earlier).



Every child potty trains differently. There is no one size fits all in this milestone. Potty training is more likely to go smoothly when your child shows signs that he is ready for it;

  • Stays absolutely dry for more than an hour and/or through the nights
  • Wants to be changed frequently and doesn’t like to be in soiled diapers.
  • Shows interest in sitting on the potty.
  • Is able to sit on it for two minutes or longer
  • Can pull their pants up or down
  • Has specific words for pee and poop.

MYTH #2: Girls potty train better than boys

Kids get a hang of potty training, when instructions are demonstrated, rather than just told. It is therefore easier for mums to train girls and makes better sense for dads to be involved in training their boys too.

MYTH #3: Punishing kids who refuse to potty train will ensure they pick up instructions faster



It is a given, to assume that punishment is a better way to get children to do things that you want. But when it comes to potty training, this method of implementation most often backfires.

Potty training is nothing but getting an involuntary act of the bladder to become voluntary, something that the child needs to control. When it comes to your little one, it does take a while for them to understand this concept. Your child is in charge of his/her own body and can’t be forced to potty train. By punishment, the child becomes confused and reacts with stubbornness and defiance. When this is carried too far, it can lead to some serious physical/psychological effects. Your child can go so far so as to withhold urine and stools, in turn leading to urinary tract infections and constipation, that can becomes severe as the days go by. Some children have even been found to develop nocturnal bed wetting habit at a later date.

Potty training is stressful, and parents have to look for signals that their child is ready before going full-fledged into it. If the child is finding it difficult, parents could do with giving them a small break, stop the training for some time and resume when the child show signs of readiness. What also helps, is positive reinforcement, constant encouragement and praise, giving them the power to take charge of it and then backing off from giving any comments, prompts or taunts. Parents must realise not to make this into a power struggle, and once the kids take the lead, they will end up potty train themselves eventually.


MYTH #4: Most kids get potty trained in a day

Potty training is not a milestone that has a fixed time period, since every child is inherently different. Training to poop is something that is tied in to their emotional and mental state as well, besides only the physical. While some can take as less as a day or week, others take much longer. On an average, it takes almost 8 months for a child to be potty trained completely, including night times. Always follow the child’s lead in this, and be consistent with whatever you have planned.

MYTH #5: Kids potty trained during the day, automatically learn to remain dry during the night

Night time potty training is different from that of the day. This depends a lot on the child’s bladder size and control, his/her sound sleep and also their maturity. Night time training is not training at all. This automatically happens as the child grows, and learns to understand and acknowledge their urge to urinate. Many studies have shown that a majority of 3-year olds routinely wet their bed at night.

As a parent, what you can do to assist night training, is limit the quantity of fluids before bedtime and take them to the loo at a particular time every night/early morning. What matters is, STICKING TO A REGULAR ROUTINE!


SCREEN TIME harms your children hugely…..Steve Jobs tells you why!!!

“So, your kids must love the iPad?” I asked Mr. Jobs, trying to change the subject. The company’s first tablet was just hitting the shelves. “They haven’t used it,” he told me. “We limit how much technology our kids use at home.”
I’m sure I responded with a gasp and dumbfounded silence. I had imagined the Jobs’s household was like a nerd’s paradise: that the walls were giant touch screens, the dining table was made from tiles of iPads and that iPods were handed out to guests like chocolates on a pillow.

Nope, Mr. Jobs told me, not even close.”- Nick Bilton

It is no surprise that the man considered to be the biggest tech geek the world has even seen, Steve Jobs, founder of the APPLE range of tech products, chose to limit the amount of screen time his kids were exposed to. This also says a lot about why gadget use in children needs to be within limits, and excessive use of them can have detrimental effects in the long run.

With technology taking over a major part of our lives, it was just a matter of time before our kids too were attracted to them. Whether it is the television at lunch time, or the Ipad for some evening entertainment or even the laptop to learn rhymes, children are exposed to and are gradually getting addicted to gadgets that are taking over their lives. Parents too find these gadgets to be a welcome reprieve, keeping their kids engaged till they complete some other task.

But gadgets cannot be used all the time, everytime, and ironically, the very founders of these are the ones who severely restrict gadget usage in their children on weekdays or limit them on weekends.

Chris Anderson, the former editor of Wired and now chief executive of 3D Robotics, a drone maker, has instituted time limits and parental controls on every device in his home. “My kids accuse me and my wife of being fascists and overly concerned about tech, and they say that none of their friends have the same rules,” he said of his five children, 6 to 17. “That’s because we have seen the dangers of technology firsthand. I’ve seen it in myself, I don’t want to see that happen to my kids.”

Another tech founder, Evan Williams, of Blogger, Twitter fame, and his wife, Sara Williams, said that in lieu of iPads, their two young boys have hundreds of books (yes, physical ones) that they can pick up and read anytime.


So why do these tech moms & dads have these restrictions in place??

Excessive exposure to gadgets can;
* Cause severe addiction in children, especially the little ones (below 10)
* Exposure to harmful content on the net, like pornography, contact with pedophiles (child sex offenders) and picking up bad habits like gambling happens gradually but with drastic longterm effects
* Instant gratification got from having information delivered to them rather than seeking it, can impact a child’s cognitive and learning skills
* Constant exposure to stimulation as found in the online media can hamper a child’s development and mental growth, including his thinking capabilities

Having known all along what gadget exposure can do to our children, most of us are at a loss as to how to limit their usage and to what extent.
The obvious answer is of course, the AGE FACTOR. Depending on what age your child is at, these tech parents tell you what best suits your child. Besides this, there are a few other factors to keep in mind;

* Children aged under 10 are very impressionable and can become addicted very easily. Therefore these kids are strictly not allowed screen time during the week. Weekend screen time, is limited to 30 minutes to two hours on the iPad and smartphone. Children between 10- and 14 on the other hand, are allowed computers on school nights, but only for doing their homework.
* Usage of Social networks by teenagers was also restricted by these tech parents.
* Children were given smartphones only at the age of 14, and this was just for making calls and texting. Most parents waited till they turned 16 years to give them a data plan.
* One general rule across all these tech parents was, NO SCREENS IN THE BEDROOM. Ever.
* An important point put forth by Ali Partovi, founder of iLike and adviser to Facebook, Dropbox was the strong distinction between time spent “consuming,” like watching YouTube or playing video games, and time spent “creating” on screens. Children should therefore be allowed to wholeheartedly pursue computer art, video editing, or computer programming.

On the other hand, it is also important to look at the flip-side, that of creating digital monsters. Too many restrictions and bans can also backfire and make the child do the same things sneakily.

Eventually it all comes down to what the parents practice and enforce. This is what children eventually follow.

As Walter Isaacson, the author of “Steve Jobs,” says “Every evening Steve made a point of having dinner at the big long table in their kitchen, discussing books and history and a variety of things,” he said. “No one ever pulled out an iPad or computer. The kids did not seem addicted at all to devices.”

Excerpts from http://www.nytimes.com





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