A constant issue among siblings is who's allowed to do what and when. The younger ones get frustrated because they typically have less freedom than the older ones do, and the older ones are annoyed when they have to make compromises on account of little brother or sister.
How can parents manage these conflicts?
To start with, they shouldn't try to please everyone. Conflicts are inherent in sibling relations and can't be avoided, says Dana Mundt, an online adviser with Germany's Federal Conference for Child Guidance Counselling (BKE).
"Most importantly, parents should do what's apt in the situation at hand and include the older children in the negotiations as far as possible," she advises.
Central ground rules should apply to all the children equally, such as brushing their teeth, taking part in family meals and, if they're finished eating before the others, asking for permission to leave the table.
"This applies, at any rate, when the younger sibling is no longer a toddler," Mundt says.
In addition, parents can consider what special dispensations to grant the older child, for example permission to do something longer or to have something the younger one can't. To cushion junior's frustration, parents should explain that big brother or big sister had similar restrictions when they were younger.
It's also a good idea to apply different media consumption standards. As regards permissible content when the kids watch TV together, parents should go by what's appropriate for the younger child. To offset this, they can allow the older child greater media time and a chance to watch something more suitable for his or her age.
Then there's the matter of sweets, which can't easily be divvied up. Parents who long managed to hold the line on their firstborn's sugar consumption will have more difficulty with later offspring, which they shouldn't get worked up about.
"After all," notes Mundt,"younger children take their cues not only from their parents, but also from their siblings." – dpa