Do siblings really get on with each other?
Life can certainly be hectic when you have two young children and one of the things you looked forward to was them being close companions and happy to play together, forging the special sibling relationship that lasts a lifetime. Nothing has gone wrong with your dreams when your children will not play together but the question to ask yourself is whether you have taught them yet how to play?
Children do not read baby books or websites and have no idea what is expected of them when it comes to playing! You may well have invested plenty of time and enthusiasm in having fun with your first child and then found that life became extra hectic when your second child arrived and now your first child will not play on their own and certainly will not play with their younger brother/sister.
Luckily, this is a temporary situation and can soon be rectified!
Give each child time with you.
Firstly, even though you have two children, they both need to have time with you independently. Try and spend some quality time with each of them one-to-one on a regularly basis whilst your other child is being cared for by your partner, grandparents or friends. Because children have a short attention span, 30 minutes – 1 hour is perfect but in that time focus just on them and sharing special moments with them.
Let each child choose how they spend their time with you. It will be fun to see their different characters emerging.
It is important to ensure that you play with your children every day for about 10-15 minutes – either in one stretch or two shorter sessions. By playing with your children, you will be able to teach them how to play well and how to take turns – a valuable lesson for school days ahead. When you play together, it is important to praise each of them for how well they are playing.
The ideal choice of playtime for both your children is fun with a bowl of water and some different sized scoops or some sand – both of these are irresistible to most children! Another winning idea is to enjoy a baking session together with some pastry. Make it fun with lots of praise for each child and the promise of another interesting activity!
There are plenty of other ideas that are ideal for children of various ages to enjoy together:-
Bubbles are great fun for all children. One child can blow the bubbles while the others tries to catch and pop them and of course mountains of bubbles in a washing up bowl are fun to shape and scoop.
Cushions are fun to build into towers with and also for creating cosy corners for reading a story together.
A fancy dress box can provide lots of fun – especially if it contains some old handbags and purses – children love these!
A collection of coloured scarves can be worn creatively or be pegged together and draped over two chairs to make a den
Make a play shop for your children – but don’t be surprised when they ask you to be their customer!
Put the music on and have fun dancing and singing together
Blow up some balloons as they are always great fun.
Use a large sheet to create a tunnel – your children will love this, especially if they can have a picnic inside!Once your children have enjoyed playing together, it is important to give them some time apart if they prefer. Some nights when you have time, instead of putting them both in the bath together, it is good to offer them the chance to have separate baths. If this becomes a popular idea, you may end up having a ‘solo bath night’!!
The bottom line is not to try and force your children to play with each other all day through, but to encourage a couple of joint play activities each day. They may well end up playing together more and more but also prefer to have times on their own each day too.
Relax because both situations can work really well and there are no set rules!