Baby/Toddler Sibling Relationships
– Jul 10, 2019(13 replies)
Hi, my kids are 19 months apart (both boys, now 9 months and 28 months), and we initially had rosy images that Big Brother would just love being with Little Brother since they are so close in age. Instead, Big Brother is very jealous, which we understand is normal, and we do try to give both the attention they need and foster healthy interaction at every opportunity. I am the younger of 2 and estranged from my own sibling (3 years older), and I believe a lot has to do with how my parents always defaulted to reprimanding my older brother if he and I had any conflicts. As a result, we are not close, but I want something different for my own children. After talking to a friend with 2 girls, she recommended the book "Siblings without Rivalry", which I have yet to read, but a lot of her advice was to start 'planting the seeds' when they are young. I am mostly wondering if certain big decisions could help plant the seeds and have a positive effect for sibling bonding, or if it might backfire. Some things I'm considering: sharing a room (we want to, but again, Big Brother seems to not want Little Brother around; we are only holding off because Little Brother doesn't sleep through the night yet and we don't want Big Brother to resent him more), attending the same daycare once Little Brother is ready (that would mean possibly delaying preschool for Big Brother,) attending a Montessori preschool where the ages are mixed (looking at more affordable options), seeing if Little Brother can be only one year apart in grade school from Big Brother (though not sure if this is possible since Little Brother is an October baby). What has worked for you? Was there ever a time/situation where you felt you were forcing the bonding to take place and it backfired?Jul 10, 2019
Tried to force our kids to bond with "togetherness". It's just my experience, but it would have been far better if we had let big brother do as many things on his own as possible (playdates, teams, activities, 1:1 with mom or dad, movies etc). At this late date we see how we gave in to little sister, and how both kids were prevented from doing stuff they liked because of the sibling. I think if big brother had been content with his own social life, and little sis had been content with parental attention and later her own social life, there would have been more space for them to appreciate each other at home. Probably there are as many ways to do it, though, as there are families. I think some siblings are inseparable.
My siblings and I are close as adults, and I really think it is because we were treated as individuals, yet treated the same. Do not delay big brother's preschool, do not try to make them one year apart in school. They should have separate rooms if that is what they want and you have enough rooms. In my family, we got to do certain things once we reached a certain age, such as go to preschool, go to amusement parks, walk to school alone, and we did not have to wait for the other ones to catch up. We also split up a lot, the older two or the younger two would go with separate parents to do separate age-appropriate activities, and someone would get one-on-one time with a parent. It all ended up equal in the end, as far as the attention and support we received from our parents, so there was no competition among us. I think artificial bonding will backfire and there will be resentment all around. Your boys are not two halves to make a whole, they are two completely separate people.
Read that book, Siblings Without Rivalry. At this point, let the older kid decide how much togetherness he wants. When the younger gets to be about 2 yo, he can be in on decisions, too. Don't force togetherness. Don't compare them to each other out loud. Don't say, " I wish you could be more like your brother." Have playdates in which you have a friend for each of them over. Make sure the younger child is disciplined in much the same way the older child is disciplined. Don't favor one child over the other because of age. Have the same expectations for both as much as possible.