It seems that as soon as you have one baby, friends and family start asking about your next. But weighing up the pros and cons of sibling age gaps may leave some of you feeling stressed.
Every coin has two sides to it. A large age gap between siblings can have benefits and challenges. While it may lead the elder child to be parental and responsible towards the younger ones, it also might lead them to be authoritative. Use these helpful tips to help navigate the age gap between your children.
On one hand, a wider ideal age gap can allow parents to give children more individualized attention. They may also have more time and energy. On the other hand, it might make the elder child feel neglected and inferior.
Families with wide age gaps face some unique challenges. Depending on the size of the age gap, parents may struggle to accommodate different developmental needs and interests. The infancy and toddler years can be especially challenging as parents try to maintain energy reserves to carry out various tasks throughout the day.
Let us look at some points which will make it easier for parents to deal with the age gap among siblings.
Be flexible. One of the most challenging aspects of having children with a wide age gap is managing their separate needs, interests, and activities. Your toddler might need a nap, for example, while your elder one needs you to drive her to sports practice. Accept that it’s not going to be perfect all the time. Keep a flexible attitude and be prepared to adapt and change between alternatives.
Plan a variety of activities. Planning family vacations or even choosing a movie can become more challenging when there is a wide age gap. Your teen probably won't have quite the same enthusiasm for visiting the same destination or watching the same movie as your younger child. Try explaining them to adjust alternatively when a variety of that particular activity is not possible to organize.
Protect the younger child’s development and do not neglect the elder one at the same time. Your tween loves playing Dance Party and listening to Bollywood music, but you might not be thrilled about your 3-year-old developing similar interests. Helping older children understand what’s appropriate for them that might not be appropriate for a younger child will help you manage the large age gap between them. Also, try to explain to them how engaging in similar activities as your little one will allow them to spend more time together and help them develop a stronger bond.
Avoid Comparing Children. Children who are compared will often feel resentful and angry both toward their sibling and you. This can make children feel unloved. They might also feel that they have failed you.
Focus on Each Child's Talents. Each child is a special and unique person. Children need to know that their contributions to the family are valued. By acknowledging the positive talents each child possesses, parents can build the child's confidence which can lead to stronger family relationships.
Here are a few more practical ideas that might help manage the age gap among siblings
- Let them designate a few things of their choice that they don’t have to share. This will help them understand that sharing everything is not compulsory but they should learn to share and help their sibling whenever they need it.
- Don’t designate any task or chore to a particular child. Always encourage them to rotate between themselves. For example, let them alternatively sit at the backseat of the car or cleaning their room. Doing this will ensure that there is no inferiority complex among them.
- Assign them jobs and activities which they can carry out together. This helps them to experience their relationship of love and care as well as build an understanding of how much they can accomplish by working together toward a common goal.
- Let them work out little arguments. Ignore the petty fights and let them find a solution among themselves.
Whether your children are two years or five years apart, parenting is a constant adventure with moments of pleasure as well as frustration. Take a positive and proactive approach to parenting. Be ready to adapt and change as your children hit new developmental milestones.
Stay Tuned, Stay Relevant!