Any ideas for encouraging sibling relationships? - Mothering Forums
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#1 of 6 Old 02-12-2013, 08:13 PM - Thread Starter
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So, I have a 4-year old and a young toddler. The 4 year old (girl) has adjusted well to baby over the past year but is still not really "into" him. They are starting to interact more in general and I am wondering how to foster a positive relationship between the two of them.


I don't want to just limit negatives ("don't mess with your sister's toys" "don't push your brother"), but figure out how to help them enjoy each other. How can I help my daughter with this? I'm thinking I may have missed the boat a little by not having her do more holding & cuddling when he was in the passive infant stage.  Anybody have any ideas or stories to share? Games or things they could do together although he is barely walking yet? Thanks in advance.

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#2 of 6 Old 02-13-2013, 11:30 AM
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I think at this age it's a little bit too much to expect much bonding to occur.


You can have the 4 year old "help" you with the toddler, but since the baby isn't even walking yet, I don't see how a 4 year old is going to have much interest in her younger brother.  Kids at that age are still very selfish.


You could read to both of them.  Get one of those toddler toys, like the one where you drop balls into the top and it rolls down a slide, ask the 4 year old to "show" the toddler how to do it.  But it may be another year or two before the two of them start to really bond.  I wouldn't worry just yet.


My oldest daughter was seven when her younger sister was born.  I was worried since there was such a big gap in their ages that they wouldn't bond.  I just encouraged my older one to help with things, get me the baby's diaper for me, and praised her whenever she helped out.  "What a great big sister you are", "so-and-so is so lucky to have you for a big sister", stuff like that.  

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#3 of 6 Old 02-13-2013, 11:47 AM
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She can play the same kinds of games you might play, like hand a ball to him, and let him give it back, and then give it back to him, etc. Or peekaboo. Anything like that. But she might not be that interested in playing with a baby. That doesn't mean she hasn't bonded, or won't bond, just that she doesn't see him as a playmate.

I agree with getting her to help out, like, "Can you get a diaper for him" or anything along those lines. Also, I agree with cuddling both of them together is a great idea.

I don't think you've "missed the boat" or anything like that. They're just very young. They'll play more as he gets older and more playful.
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#4 of 6 Old 02-13-2013, 09:18 PM - Thread Starter
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Thanks! Yes, we have done some things like that. She is a good helper for sure and I appreciate the extra suggestions.


I was just feeling like maybe I could be doing more because we have friends with kids the same age and the older sister is super-into the little one...was starting to feel like I was doing something wrong! But that child has always been more into dollies/babies so maybe that's it.  Glad to hear some more experienced perspectives.  :)

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#5 of 6 Old 02-23-2013, 12:00 PM
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My kids are 8 and 6 and are the best friends, and have been best friends, for many years. We've been lucky that they have always just worked well together. I think A LOT of it is luck actually - it just has to be two personalities that mesh in a certain way, and you don't really have control over that.


When my DD was a baby, my DS had very little interest in her. I mean really, she was a blob that cried and dribbled and knocked things over. What fun is that? When DD was about 18 months, walking, talking and interacting with him, then she started to be fun. From when they were about 2 and 4 it's been smooth sailing. I don't think there is really much you can do when the youngest is still an infant. When they are older, you can make sure each get their own one-on-one quality time, they can have shared friends, but they also should each have some of their "own" friends, and that competition over mom/dads love/time/... is as minimized as possible by seeing their own unique traits and interests. And when they get on each others nerves, make a point to separate them for a while and have them do their own thing.

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#6 of 6 Old 02-25-2013, 10:26 AM
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my kids are 3 years apart and play together so well now most of the time.  Seriously, I love to watch them interact and come up with games, etc. 


But, this has only happened in the past year or so.  Ds is almost 3 and Dd is almost 6.  They started playing together much better when ds was closer to 2, and even better when he started talking more fluently and when he, ahem, stopped smacking his sister upside the head everytime he didn't get his way. 


My only suggestions now would be to be careful not to "blame" not being able to do things on ds (i.e. don't say all the time that you can't play because you have to change a diaper, feed him, get him to sleep, etc.) Sometimes is fine IMO, but I tried not to do it all the time so she didn't feel resentful.  Otherwise, my dd loved to do things like push ds on a swing, roll him a ball, even help feed him at that age. 


Also, I think  making sure you spend "special time" with your older (I did it during ds' naps mostly, when he would let me get up!) helped her feel less stressed about sharing attention during the day and she was able to enjoy her brother more.  At the ages yours are now, I think it is normal for them to not be into the younger sibling all the time.  S ure, some kids really are, but my experience has been something like 5 minutes of gushing and attention to the baby and then a few hours of mostly indifference :) Like I said, they love each other now and play together most of the day really well. 


Good luck!

Single mama namaste.gif to dd dust.gifand ds fencing.gif, loving my dsd always reading.gif .
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