An older sibling starting big school can be a particularly distressing time for a younger sibling, seeing them become clingy or grumpy.

Along with feeling they have lost their partner in crime, a younger child can feel jealous about not being able to do what their sibling now can. When children are young, most of their time and toys are shared. When one leaves the nest that is home, there will be an adjustment period for both children to adapt to the new routine. For the sibling still at home it can be genuine sense of loss. Here are just a few ways to make the transition easier for a younger sibling now that they no longer have their playmate around all day.

Make home time special

Doing special one-on-one activities that your child enjoys will act as a welcome distraction. Special time with your child doesn’t have to be an elaborate activity; the important part is letting them lead by choosing what they would like to play and how they’d like to play it. This individual time will strengthen your relationship and establish strong foundations that will improve your child’s self-worth.

Talk about it

Helping your child to understand what is happening and the new routine for everyone in the family a few weeks prior will give them time to comprehend and manage their feelings. Make sure you allow them to ask questions and help them to understand what they are feeling. Let them know what you will be doing with them once the sibling is at school, so they have something to look forward to.

Socialise them with same-aged kids

Not having a sibling around is the perfect opportunity for your child to socialise with peers their own age. Sign them up for community play group, organise play dates, or go to local library story time sessions. Enabling them to develop the skill of making new friends will hold them in good stead for when their time comes to start school.

Distract them

Particularly in the first few weeks, parents may need to give your child at home more attention. Going out of the house into different settings such as the park, or library will be a good way to help them forget about what their sibling is doing. The key will be to avoid them being bored at home as this will remind them of their lack of play partner.Remember to be patient, and a good hug goes a long way in solving most problems.

Help them find their independence

In the lead up to school, organise your children to undertake separate activities to teach them they are capable having fun on their own. Helping your child to find confidence in themselves will be an important step to accepting their sibling won’t be around all the time.

Have quality family time

Making time for quality family time will be important to reinforcing a strong family bond between everyone. Use mealtimes as an opportunity for the whole family to sit down, talk and spend time together. Having a child start school is a big change for the whole family, and will introduce a new routine for everyone. Creating a plan that caters for both the child going to school and the a younger sibling that is being left behind will be important in avoiding unhappy, lonely and long days.

For more information contact Sydney’s leading Child Clinical Psychologist, Dr Anna Cohen at Kids & Co or visit the Heads & Tails website.

This article was written by Dr. Anna Cohen and sourced from Kidspot.