As mother of two quite young kids, with an age gap of just a year and half, what I face currently is unfathomable to my former self, let’s say, about six years ago. While I do have great hopes of my kids growing up to be inseparable brothers, being an inspiration to siblings worldwide, the probability of that seems to be abysmally low. Around 4 years ago, my second kid entered the family, and quite expectedly, he was not a welcome sight to my elder one. Far from playing with each other, I would consider it a fruitful day if my elder one didn’t bash up the younger one with a vengeance. That my little one remains safe and sound and has befriended my belligerent elder after all seems incredulous. However, I did learn a few lessons in the course of raising these two munchkins.
- Firstly, never to expect the elder one to share at the first go. He had always been priority one for every one all the time before the second one came in. Understandably so, he is naturally inclined to dislike number two, who trespasses the home ground and steals his thunder away. I never taught him to share before, so how can I expect him to start sharing now? Instead of focusing on things to share, I now focus on making them share activities and sharing time together, so that number one realizes how much fun it would be to have a play partner or a companion. The goal is to orient number one to see number two as an ally or partner in crime, rather than a rival.
- Secondly, being around all the time does not help. The dynamics of sibling interaction change drastically in absence of adult supervision. We can baby proof the ground by removing sharp objects from their vicinity and padding the play area, so that in case of a conflict or fight, the kids don’t end up doing severe damage to each other or things around. The investment is worthwhile because when the parents are not around, the child would be inclined to get closer to the next most familiar person. This makes them positively oriented to each other. On the other hand, constant interference by parents tend to hold them in competition with each other. And the fireworks begin!
- If the age gap between siblings is between 0-2 years, it helps to create opportunities for them where they have separate friend groups, there will be less comparison between them, allowing individuality and natural talents to flourish. In this manner, each will feel more secure and less threatened of being overshadowed by the other one.
- Lastly, as cliched as it is, every child is unique, and we must maintain that not just in thought and words, but also in behaviour and actions. It is possible to have more affection for one child than the other, but never should it be conveyed or shown in any form. A child’s mind is like playdough, mouldable, easily affected and capable of retaining lasting impressions of repeated actions. We must really look at them for what they are indeed, little bundles of love!