Ask AF: Insecure About a Sibling

The AF expert explains how to avoid sibling competition when one child is very insecure.


Q: Our seven-year-old has to be reassured frequently that we’re proud of her, that she did a great job, and so on. We’re adopting a second child, and we worry that our daughter’s insecurity will lead her to compete with a new sibling. Any advice?

A: To begin with, let’s separate your concerns about your daughter’s self-esteem from your wish to add a second child to your family. You should work on enhancing your daughter’s self-esteem whether or not you expand your family. Begin praising her for her efforts, for sticking with a difficult task, and for having a good attitude. Your goal is to help her feel good about real skills that she has, so she can stop judging herself against having done a “great job.” Helping your daughter improve her self-image will lay some solid groundwork for comparisons she might make to a sibling, or to anyone else in her life. With stronger self-esteem, your daughter should be able to adjust well to a new sibling.

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