3-4 YEARS OLD

If your sec­ond kid is of­ten over­shad­owed by his more flam­boy­ant si­b­ling, it’s time to show him that he’s spe­cial, too. Start with these strate­gies from DR RICHARD C. WOOLF­SON.

Young Parents (Singapore) - - Contents -

If your three-year-old is of­ten over­shad­owed by his older si­b­ling, show him how he is spe­cial, too, with these strate­gies.

Does your three-year-old al­ways seem to be in his older sis­ter’s shadow?

If she’s out­spo­ken, ca­pa­ble – and per­haps a lit­tle bossy – you may need to en­cour­age him to de­velop a stronger per­son­al­ity so he isn’t over­awed by her – even if she doesn’t re­alise the ef­fect she has on her younger brother.

It doesn’t help that he is usu­ally on the los­ing end of ev­ery ar­gu­ment be­cause he’s younger and there­fore can’t ar­tic­u­late his thoughts well.

Don’t blame his older sis­ter for this – she doesn’t de­lib­er­ately set out to make her lit­tle brother feel small and in­signifi­cant.

On the other hand, there is no harm in mak­ing her aware that her brother looks up to her and is in awe of her sim­ply be­cause she is older and more ma­ture.

Ex­plain to her that be­cause he is younger and can’t speak as well as her, he’ll al­ways be in sec­ond place un­less she gives way some­times.

So, ask her to think about times when she can let him be the one who chooses the game they play to­gether or has first choice of the sweets. If she re­verses the nor­mal si­b­ling peck­ing-order oc­ca­sion­ally, that’ll help bring your three-year-old out of the shad­ows.

You’re a great kid

You need to play your part as well by mak­ing your younger child feel spe­cial. He needs to feel that he is as im­por­tant as ev­ery­one else in the fam­ily.

If he thinks that his older sis­ter is held in higher es­teem, she gets bet­ter treat­ment than him, or she has par­tic­u­lar ad­van­tages be­cause she is older, he’ll ex­pe­ri­ence the sort of re­sent­ment that goes with be­ing over­shad­owed.

So, make sure he doesn’t get lost in that dis­tant corner which fam­i­lies of­ten re­serve for the youngest child.

Find out how he feels about his re­la­tion­ships with his older sis­ter – even at the age of three, he can tell you what he likes and dis­likes – and be pre­pared to lis­ten to any com­plaints he has about her (even if they sound ir­ra­tional to you).

Like­wise, make a big fuss of your younger child’s achieve­ments, whether in draw­ing, climb­ing or talk­ing. You may find that you are less ex­cited about his suc­cesses than you were about his older sis­ter’s gains (such as her first step, her first word, her first laugh).

It’s not that you love him less than his older sis­ter; it’s just that the nov­elty can start to wear off with suc­ces­sive chil­dren. If you do feel this way, don’t let it show. Your lit­tle one needs your in­ter­est, at­ten­tion and en­thu­si­asm, as much as his older sis­ter does.

Play up his strengths

En­cour­age his in­di­vid­ual in­ter­ests. Of course, if he goes to the same drama class as his older sis­ter or if he plays the same mu­si­cal in­stru­ment as her, it is more con­ve­nient for you.

That way, you min­imise the ex­penses and you don’t trail around all day go­ing from one leisure ac­tiv­ity to an­other.

But maybe your younger child wants to do some­thing dif­fer­ent from her. Per­haps his in­ter­ests lie in dif­fer­ent ar­eas. Do your best to recog­nise and de­velop his in­di­vid­u­al­ity.

Re­spect him, and make sure that his sis­ter sees you do this.

Like his si­b­ling, he has the same need to be loved and ac­cepted by you.

He may only be three years old, but he still has emo­tions, thoughts and ideas that he wants to ex­press, and he has a right to re­ceive re­spect and to be treated se­ri­ously. That’s the best way to stop him from feel­ing over­shad­owed by his older sis­ter.

Do your best to recog­nise and de­velop his in­di­vid­u­al­ity. He needs your in­ter­est, at­ten­tion and en­thu­si­asm, as much as his older sis­ter does.

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