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Siblings and Aggression

Toddler and Teenager Expert Advice from Carleton Kendrick, Ed.M., LCSW

Q: Five out of eight moms in our weekly playgroup have two children under twenty seven months at home. We are all experiencing the same big problem. What is the best way to handle our older children when they show aggression to their younger siblings? Can you help or recommend books on this subject?

A: Rather than going into a detailed developmental explanation on why this aggression is normal and why it's happening, let me recommend two superb books that address not only this particular age-grouped sibling problem but also the nature of sibling rivalry and what to do about it at all life ages and stages. Sufficed to say, attempting to reassure the older sibling of her/his continuing "special status" ( the one he/she feels has been stolen by "the new kid") is paramount ,as are concerted attempts to spend special time alone with the older child. Realistically, we parents do need to keep an eye on our older,aggressive kids when they are physically near their younger siblings because they are not aware of the harm their hitting, pulling, shaking etc. can cause.

My sibling book resources are: Siblings Without Rivalry by Faber & Mazlish and Loving Each One Best by Nancy Samalin.

I know this situation is troublesome but you will find coping mechanisms and I guarantee you that both kids (and you!) will actually survive and flourish.

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Carleton Kendrick has been in private practice as a family therapist and has worked as a consultant for more than 20 years. He has conducted parenting seminars on topics ranging from how to discipline toddlers to how to stay connected with teenagers. Kendrick has appeared as an expert on national broadcast media such as CBS, Fox Television Network, Cable News Network, CNBC, PBS, and National Public Radio. In addition, he's been quoted in the New York Times, Washington Post, Chicago Tribune, Boston Globe, USA Today, Reader's Digest, BusinessWeek, Good Housekeeping, Woman's Day, and many other publications.

Please note: This "Expert Advice" area of should be used for general information purposes only. Advice given here is not intended to provide a basis for action in particular circumstances without consideration by a competent professional. Before using this Expert Advice area, please review our General and Medical Disclaimers.

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