The birthday conundrum: should siblings get consolation presents?


Guests sometimes bring along a small consolation gift for the birthday boy or girl's siblings in case they feel jealous or left out. But is that necessary, or even a good idea? Photo: Oliver Berg/dpa

Often, a child has a birthday and receives a stack of presents at their party. Guests - or parents, grandparents, uncles and aunts - sometimes bring along a small consolation gift for their sister or brother too, in case they feel jealous or left out.

Is that necessary - or a good idea even?

"Generally speaking, no one has to bring a consolation gift for siblings," says Nicola Schmidt, a parenting expert from Germany.

She suggests instead that parents include their other children in birthday preparations.

"Let's bake a cake together for your brother. That would be a great surprise," she says as one example. Or: "Let's wrap the present for your sister really well. She'll be amazed."

That works for very young children, she says.

The main trick is to turn the experience from "receiving something" to "creating something together," explains the bestselling author.

That works especially well if you draw guests' attention to this ahead of time. Then, when people say nice things - like "Wow, you baked the cake as well? I'd like to have a brother like that!" - the sibling who isn't celebrating their birthday can feel pretty proud.

Siblings can also be assigned an important role in the celebrations, maybe as a referee, moderator or juror who counts and announces points during games.

"You need to prepare games like this, and that helps the child realize how important it is for a successful birthday party - and then they don't even think of getting upset or pouting." - dpa

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