Before my son was born, we wondered what life would be like with two kids. We knew it would make things a little more complicated and chaotic, but in a good way. We thought a great deal about how it would affect our four year old daughter who would be old enough to know what was going on, but maybe too young to understand the needs of a small baby. Would she love or reject the new addition to our family?
Thankfully, when Luke came into the world, Mia took to him and loved him immediately.
But our greatest challenge so far has been that maybe she loves him too much because she wants to hold him and play with him all of the time.
Which can be quite daunting for a baby who really needs personal space from time to time.
I am happy that my daughter has shown interest in her brother, but there have been so many times that my mama bear protective instinct has kicked in and I tend to fly off the handle at my daughter’s expense if she gets too rough with him. The greatest challenge for us has been to figure out how to teach a toddler to be gentle and nurturing, when all they want to do in life is grab everything in sight with force and make it their own.
Here is how we have tried to handle it:
- When she grabs her brother forcefully, we try to show her how it feels (not in a way that would hurt) and that it can cause pain to the baby. Sometimes she gets it and sometimes, she just laughs at us.
- Divert her attention. If I see her getting antsy and attempting to bother her brother, I will try focus her attention on another activity like coloring, or watching a video, or get her to play outside.
- Explain cause and effect. Warn my daughter that if she doesn’t listen to her parents and try to be a little gentler, that will result in her having to go sit quietly in her room for a few minutes.
Managing this sibling love has been exhausting. But it is also very interesting and heart warming to watch their relationship unfold and strengthen. So even though we still have moments like this:
We have a lot of these moments too.
Parents of two or more children, how do you manage your kids’ relationships?