by Ann Douglas
My friend's son gets jealous on his older sister's birthday. Her husband thinks this year he should have presents on her birthday to make him feel better, but she's worried it will send the wrong message. It seems that last year he had a tantrum on her birthday because he didn't get presents too. Would giving him gifts on her birthday this year, be rewarding bad behavior. What do you think? Comment and let us know.
Here are my thoughts: Being a guest at someone else's birthday party can seem like an exercise in torture for a very young child. But buying that child gifts in order to ease the pain of not being the birthday boy is likely to create more problems that it will solve. Learning to wait for things that we really want (like for it to be our birthday) is an important skill. If we deprive our children of the opportunity to work on this skill, we're simply making it that much more difficult for them to develop it.
There are, of course, little things you can do to soften the frustration. You might want to distract him while the gift-opening is going on. And you could certainly give him a loot bag (filled with age-appropriate goodies) so he doesn't leave the party empty handed. Your best bet is to keep the party focused on fun rather than presents. That won't just benefit your son. It will benefit your daughter, too. There are all kinds of different ways to de-emphasize presents at a birthday party. Talk to other parents to get some ideas or come up with your own unique tradition -- and then let the partying begin!
Ann Douglas is the author of numerous books about pregnancy and parenting including the bestselling "The Mother of All Pregnancy Books." She regularly contributes to a number of print and online publications, is frequently quoted in the media on a range of parenting-related topics, and has appeared as a guest on a number of television and radio shows. Ann and her husband Neil live in Peterborough, Ontario. with the youngest of their four children. Learn more at her site, having-a-baby.com.
Copyright © Ann Douglas. Permission to publish granted to Pregnancy.org.