New York Presbyterian

FALL 2014

Spirit of Women magazine is a national publication presented to women by hospitals and their physicians. The magazine provides up-to-date, evidence-based healthcare information and promotes our hospitals as leaders in women's health excellence.

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9 w w w. s p i r i t o f w o m e n . c o m FA L L 2 014 S P I R I T O F W O M E N F A M I L Y S T Y L E SHUTTERSTOCK stop fights before they start is to make sure you're spending quality time alone with each child, according to Dr. Sara Gondol, a pediatrician affiliated with The Medical Center of Plano in Plano, Texas. "Sometimes families feel like they have to share every- thing all together, but time reading a favorite book or do- ing a special activity specifically with one child can really help make them feel important," she says. Dr. Gondol also suggests giving children separate chores to do so they feel as if they are playing a unique role in the family. "Ultimately, if you don't focus on what they're good at, kids can spiral and act out," Dr. Gondol says. "Negative attention is still attention, so it's important to make sure [that you] give positive rather than negative reinforcement for things they do." KNOW WHEN TO STEP BACK Don't forget, though, that sibling relationships do not com- pletely center on you. As kids get older, they need to figure out how to deal with one another without your intervention. "Stepping in too quickly to fix the situation prevents kids from learning important problem-solving skills," says Dr. Henderson, who suggests that parents avoid taking sides and refuse to reward tattling. "I told my children that I did not want to get involved unless there was blood or the potential for bodily harm." • S ibling rivalry can begin the moment you bring home a new baby and an older child starts to wonder: Who is going to get the most atten- tion from Mom and Dad now? It's a normal reaction, say experts, and how you deal with sibling interactions over the years will have a long-term effect on your children's relationships with one another. DIFFERENT BUT EQUAL To help a new baby get started on the right foot, says Dr. Anita Henderson, a pediatrician who is affiliated with Forrest General Hospital in Hattiesburg, Miss., be sure to talk with older siblings beforehand about what to expect. Give them jobs to do, such as handing off diapers and wipes or reading to the new baby, and reassure them that they haven't been replaced. "Making sure children know that you value each one of them equally can have long-lasting benefits for the family," says Dr. Henderson. "The most important thing to stress is that every child has different strengths, and try not to compare them," agrees Dr. Cody Wagner, a family practitioner affiliated with Decatur County Memorial Hospital in Greensburg, Ind. PREVENTING FIGHTS It's inevitable that siblings will bicker, but one way to help Playing fair: How to handle sibling rivalry By Stephanie Thompson

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