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.
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.