Nine Simple Mommy Secrets to Minimize Sibling Jealousy

Last updated on May 30th, 2017 at 09:38 pm

sibling rivalryI’ll never forget the time one of my kids accused me of one of the truly Deadly Mommy Sins: “Loving the Other Brother More.” To make things even worse, my girlfriend was the one to convey my youngest child’s feelings to me. “Did you know that your youngest, precious child thinks you love your second offspring more?” I can remember not only her words, but where she relayed them to me. They caused such angst. Oh the guilt, the shame, the humiliation! There are few crimes your child can accuse you of that make a mother feel more hurt and disgraced. And how could my son possibly feel I loved his brother more? I wracked my brain trying to figure that one. I’d always tried so hard to make things fair amongst my sons. After all, I went out of my way to make sure I showed up–and on time, at that–at the precise same number of their soccer games. I tallied the exact hours I volunteered in each of my children’s classrooms to ensure I gave equal time. I even checked my Daytimer to make certain each child had the same number of play dates. And now I’m accused of being an unfair mother! I was devastated.

A few sleepless nights I finally had my “Ah Ha Mommy Moment.” I realized that though I can try to make things appear even and equal for my kids, the fact is, it’s just plain impossible. Besides, even trying to treat kids equally is plain unrealistic: my three kids are as different as night and day just as I’m sure yours are as well. Our kids come packaged with different temperaments, interests, and needs. So we can’t drive ourselves too crazy trying to make things always fair. It just isn’t realistic. Besides, real life isn’t fair. It was my Reality Check and became an important Mommy Secret to remind myself. The truth is, as much as we try to make our kids feel equally loved, they are bound to accuse us of showing “favoritism.” It’s up to we moms to keep things in perspective.

The real secret here is to try and minimize conditions that break down sibling relationships that can cause long-lasting resentment. Here’s the bottom line: While some rivalry is plain unavoidable, mothers can discourage sibling disharmony by giving careful attention to how their household atmosphere is structured. Here are nine simple Mommy Secrets to guide you in minimizing sibling jealousy and boosting harmony amongst your kids:

  1. Give yourself a reality check. Before you go beating yourself up, take a moment to seriously reflect on how you do treat your kids. A good question to ponder is: “If someone asked your child if you treat your kids fairly, how would he or she respond?” For instance: Does each kid feel like your favorite? Do you avoid comparing your kids in front of others? Do you provide opportunities for each child to nurture her special talents? Is there one thing you might do to change your behavior or interactions with your children to minimize their feelings of jealousy or rivalry?
  2. Get in your child’s shoes. Pretend you really are in the shoes of the child who feels jealous. How would you feel if you were your kid? How would you act? Is his take on things right? If so, what will you do to change your relationship with this child so he feels just as special in your eyes? Write down your thoughts then commit to making that change happen.
  3. Refrain from comparing behaviors. Never compare or praise one kid’s behavior in contrast to a sibling: it can create long-lasting strains. “Why can’t you be more like your sister?” “Why aren’t you organized like your brother?” All too easily, kids can interpret such comparisons as: “You think he’s better than me” or “You love him more.” It unfairly puts pressure on the sibling you praised and devalues your other child.
  4. Listen openly to all sides. Listening fairly to your kids is a powerful way to convey that you respect each child’s thoughts and want to hear all sides: “Thanks for sharing. Now I want to hear your brother’s side.” The key is to build a fair relationship with each sibling so that he or she knows not only that you value each opinion and you’re an unbiased listener.
  5. Never compare schoolwork. Kids should compare their schoolwork, test scores, and report cards only to their own previous work—never to the work of their siblings or friends. Instead of stimulating a child to work harder, comparisons are more likely to fuel resentment.
  6. Avoid using negative labels. Family nicknames like Shorty, Clumsy, or Klutz can cause unfair family ribbings and fuel sibling resentment. “Don’t worry, he’s just the family klutz”-as well as become daily reminders of incompetence. These kinds of labels often stick and become difficult to erase, not only within but also outside your family as well.
  7. Nurture a unique strength for each sibling. All kids deserve to hear from parents what makes them unique. Knowledge of that talent nurtures their self-esteem as well as setting them apart from their siblings. Ideally, you should nurture a different strength for each sibling based on natural temperament and interests. Once you identify the talent, find opportunities to cultivate and validate it so each child can be acknowledged for their strength.
  8. Find special alone time with each child. One way to let each child feel treasured is by spending alone just with each parent. Capitalize on those individual moments as they arise: “Your brother’s asleep. Let’s just you and I go read books together.” Or make a date with each sibling to have special time just with you then mark it on the calendar. How frequently you meet is based on what’s realistic for your schedule: thirty minutes weekly, ten minutes daily, an hour every other week. Arrange for another adult to watch other siblings or choose a time when they’re gone. “Together” occasions could be: a movie, a walk, lunching at a favorite restaurant, kite flying, an ice cream outing, or just time alone. Then enjoy each other without siblings around.
  9. Reinforce cooperative behavior. Don’t overlook one of the simplest ways to boost sibling harmony: catch them supporting each other. The moments may be few and far between, but when they do help, share, cooperate, and work well together, tell them you appreciate their efforts. They’re more likely to repeat the behaviors because they know that’s what you want them to do.

Now that you’ve learned the nine Mommy Secrets how will you use them to achieve long-term change? You might want to take a moment to write down exactly what promise you want to make to yourself and your family. For instance, which simple secret you will commit to doing within the next twenty-four hours to make a real difference in your family. Then don’t give up until you get the change you want.

************************************************************************************************************Borba - book cover -parentingsolutions140x180

Dr Borba’s book The Big Book of Parenting Solutions: 101 Answers to Your Everyday Challenges and Wildest Worries, is one of the most comprehensive parenting book for kids 3 to 13. This down-to-earth guide offers advice for dealing with children’s difficult behavior and hot button issues including biting, tantrums, cheating, bad friends, inappropriate clothing, sex, drugs, peer pressure and much more. Each of the 101 challenging parenting issues includes specific step-by-step solutions and practical advice that is age appropriate based on the latest research. The Big Book of Parenting Solutions is available at

Frederick the Paramedic: Helping Your Child Feel Safe with EMS

Last updated on August 31st, 2015 at 12:40 am

Frederick the Paramedic Cover 2My wife Nicole and I have over 25 years of combined experience as paramedics, and we are now co-authors of the new children’s book Frederick the Paramedic. Through the years, we have seen an increase in pediatric 911 emergency calls, and they all have one thing in common – the patient may be more scared of us that what is actually ailing them. This can lead to several negative factors, such as increasing their anxiety level, which may lead to worsening their condition. Typically, a child’s point of reference regarding medical care is that they are going to receive a shot or some other uncomfortable procedure. This series is designed to alleviate some of those fears by putting them in control, and even prevent an incident from happening.

After the birth of our daughter Sophia in 2013, and many picture books later, we noticed that there are plenty of story books about safety, but almost none about what happens if you do get hurt. We’ve also seen that much of the children’s literature regarding EMS is in the form of a pamphlet or flyer, which has no identifiable characters, and is easily tossed away. Also, we noticed that the characters are often fantasized, which does not provide a true representation of what really happens – this is why the stethoscopes in our book don’t talk! We want to provide as close to a real situation as possible, but in a fun cartoon form, so that there are no false expectations. This is how Frederick the Paramedic came to be.

In our first book, we designed Frederick the Paramedic to promote safety, injury prevention, memory recall, decision making, and EMS awareness. The reader will partner up with Frederick and go through a day in the life of a paramedic. Together they will check out their ambulance, get dispatched to a call, arrive on scene, assess and treat their patient, then transport him to the hospital and give a report to the doctor.

Based on actual calls we have responded to, national paramedic protocols and real data from the leaders in childhood safety, we created the first story about 12 year old Tommie. Tommie goes skateboarding with no safety gear, and sustains an injury to his arm. When Frederick and your child arrive on scene, they are greeted by the police and fire departments, who give a brief report to Frederick about the scene and what happened. Frederick assists his partner in assessing and treating Tommie’s injuries. They then transport Tommie to the Emergency Room, where he is greeted by a Dr. who takes an x-ray. Your reader is guided by Frederick to give a report to the Dr. about their findings and treatments. Then Frederick recaps with the reader about the dangers of not wearing safety gear while skateboarding

By choosing common childhood activities, Frederick the Paramedic relates to what kids enjoy doing on a daily basis. Some of these activities may have potential for injury. Preventing injuries in the first place is one of the main goals of the book. But when they do happen, and 911 is called, your reader will understand that we are there to help. They will understand that we may need to touch their arm to make it feel better, and we aren’t there to make them feel worse.

Fred pictureThe great part about this concept is how dynamic it is. There can be a Frederick the Paramedic book about anything relating to childhood injury, sickness, or even witnessing a loved one being treated by a paramedic. That is where we are planning to go with this. Tackling issues such as food allergies and asthma, to grandparents with chest pains or signs of a stroke. In today’s economy, grandparents are watching grandchildren more and more. By educating the child to look for signs of a stroke and calling 911 early, can literally be a difference of life or death, as well as taking the child out of harms way.

In the couple of months that Frederick the Paramedic has been available, we have received emails from people stating how the book has helped their child. One such example was from a school in Vermont where a 1st grader was taken by ambulance. The rest of the class was very upset and scared for their friend. Frederick was donated to their school library about a month after the incident, and the librarian was very excited to have a relatable book that she could read to the children. She realized that she had no other material that could explain what was happing until then.

A little biased here, but my 3 year old nephew was going with my sister to a Dr. appointment, and asked if he would see Tommie there. It took my sister a minute to recall that it was Tommie from the book! But we have received several emails and comments about how kids have been recalling the story at times where they may see a hospital, or an ambulance. One mother stated her son asked if Frederick was on that ambulance. The fears that have been instilled in children at such a young age regarding medical establishments are breaking down.

We hope you enjoy a copy with your little ones, and hope they never need an ambulance, but let them be prepared if they do!


​If you ever think you need to call 911, call!

  • Everyone has a different idea on what an emergency is. Calling 911 is a scary time for anyone. Paramedics will assess the situation and provide the best treatments possible, while trying to ease the anxieties that go along with the patients emergency.
  • Teaching your children as early as possible can to call 911 is an important skill for them to learn. In a situation where a caregiver were to have an emergency, it may save a life as well as their own.

Make the Bedroom Screen-Free for Better Kid Sleep

Last updated on June 12th, 2015 at 10:16 am

A survey has shown that using computers, mobiles and TVs at night affects children’s sleep and, therefore, their health, mood and performance at school.

Studies show that many children are severely sleep deprived. One in three children aged 12 to 16 sleeps for just four to seven hours a night, according to a poll of 1,000 youngsters by The Sleep Council.

Little Boy Using Mobile Under BlanketChildren in this age group require eight to 10 hours’ sleep a night, say sleep experts.

They reckon that screens and other electronic devices are to blame and advise placing strict limits on the use of TVs, mobile phones or computers in a child’s bedroom during the evening.

Nearly one in four of the children surveyed admitted they fell asleep more than once a week while watching TV, listening to music or during other technical distractions.

Virtually all the children polled (98.5%) have a phone, music system or TV in their bedroom and two-thirds (65%) have all three.

The Effects of Lack of Sleep

Most teenagers don’t make the link between getting enough quality sleep and how they feel during the day, says Dr Chris Idzikowski of the Edinburgh Sleep Centre.

He says the impact of poor-quality sleep on a teenager’s health is comparable to regularly eating junk food. “We’re seeing the emergence of junk sleep,” he says.

“That’s sleep that is neither the length nor quality that it should be in order to feed the brain with the rest it needs to perform properly at school.”

Evidence shows that night-time sleep is just as important as healthy eating and exercise for children to develop. Those who don’t get enough sleep are more likely to be overweight or obese. This is because they tend to crave and eat sugary or starchy food during the day to provide energy to stay awake.

The key to adequate sleep is whether a child gets up fairly easily in the morning, is alert and happy for most of the day and is not grumpy.

Younger children who are persistently sleep deprived seem irritable and overactive, seek constant stimulation and lack concentration. Such symptoms can be mistaken for mild ADHD (attention deficit hyperactivity disorder).

Children Need Deep Sleep

Professor Jim Horne of Loughborough University’s Sleep Research Centre is an expert in sleep deprivation and says children going through puberty and adolescence need to “sleep longer and deeper”.

“It’s a time during which their brains are undergoing major change,” he says. “The brain is undergoing major restructuring and rewiring and sleep is important for it to recover.

“A poor night’s sleep can interfere with a child’s performance and behaviour the following day. There’s a stereotype of teenagers being grumpy and bad tempered, and that’s sometimes due to a lack of sleep.”

Peer pressure and social factors, including the increase in entertainment equipment in the bedroom, are making it increasingly difficult for children to sleep well.

“Bedrooms are changing from a place of rest and tranquillity to places where there are lots of things to keep children awake, such as computers and televisions,” says Horne.

“Children are often tempted to take their mobile phone to bed with them and start texting without their mum and dad knowing.

“This distraction means they’re not in a relaxed state for good-quality sleep, which can affect their learning.

“I would place firm night-time limits on the use of a television, mobile phone or a computer in their bedroom.”

Find tips to help your child get a good night’s sleep.


Child Health & Safety News Roundup: 05-25-2015 to 05-31-2015

Last updated on June 12th, 2015 at 10:16 am

twitter thumbWelcome to Pediatric Safety’s weekly “Child Health & Safety News Roundup”- a recap of the past week’s child health and safety news headlines from around the world. Each day we use Twitter and Facebook to communicate relevant and timely health and safety information to the parents, medical professionals and other caregivers who follow us. Occasionally we may miss something, but we think overall we’re doing a pretty good job of keeping you informed. But for our friends and colleagues not on Twitter or FB (or who are but may have missed something), we offer you a recap of the past week’s top 25 events & stories.

PedSafe Child Health & Safety Top Headline of the Week:
Hardcore porn and online dating are what teens really get up to on laptops
Really scary! Parents of teens please read

PedSafe Child Health & Safety Headline of the Week #2:
FDA: Don’t use spray sunscreens on children

Thin Line Between Helping and Enabling My Special Needs Child

Last updated on June 12th, 2015 at 10:16 am

Girl helping mother to wash clothesMy special needs daughter always wants help. As she gets older I want her to start being more independent, which means that sometimes I say no when she asks for help. I encourage her and tell her I know she can do it on her own. And I feel guilty about it.

For a long time I didn’t say no – I helped. And helping usually means doing it for her. I mean, her fine motor skills challenges make it tough to put clothes on hangers and then hang them in her closet. But as time went on I was getting worn out. I also started to think that I was being conned.

Sure enough, with the right amount of bribery, she was suddenly able to manage the hangers. But not before a very dramatic outburst where she tearfully asked if I was never going to help her again for the rest of her life. I assured her that I would always be there to help with the big things for the rest of her life, but it was my job to make sure she could do as much as possible on her own as she grows up. She wasn’t happy about it, but she understood.

There have been countless times when I have been tempted to step in and help with tasks. Many times it is just easier – and quicker and neater, too. Sometimes she truly does need some assistance, but sometimes if I just hold back a moment longer she manages to do it. Maybe not perfectly, but that’s okay!

Then there are times when she doesn’t really need help…she just wants help. This brings up another issue – is she avoiding things that are challenging to her, or just avoiding work altogether? The jury is still out on this one. Sometimes she will admit that she just wants company, so I try to join her while she completes her task. But still, somehow, I end up being the one who does it. I have to catch myself, because those are the times when I am enabling and not helping. And in the long run that is not helping her at all.