Posted by: Tricia | July 20, 2011

Growing Pains

Being an only child, I never had to deal with an adorable, but definitely annoying at times, baby brother.  Elliott was nearly 3 when Jude was born and we made the adjustment to having him around with relative ease.  Sure, Jude required more of my time for nursing, bathing, soothing, etc., but for the most part.  He was content to sit happily by himself amid all the action…still with us, but most definitely not in big brother’s way.

Fast forward 10 months…Jude started crawling and Elliott was 3 1/2.  I knew the adjustment to Jude’s mobility would be difficult, especially for Elliott.  Until then he didn’t have to worry about sharing or having his blocks knocked down.  We did our best to encourage Elliott to “include” Jude by offering him some of what he was playing with if possible.  We also taught him how to distract or redirect him with another toy.  In the case of building blocks, or playing games with small pieces we encouraged Elliott to do so at the dining room table.  Occasionally he would go in his room and shut the door to play alone.  David and I have to remind Elliott over and over again that Jude isn’t old enough to understand how to share, wait his turn, or be told not to do something.  But, he does learn from our behavior so we still have to be gentle and kind when he’s doing something that we are unhappy about.

Fast forward to the present…Jude is 14 1/2 months old, walking, and into everything!  I would compare him to the Looney Toons Tazmanian Devil, tearing through the house, destroying everything in his path.  Stuff.  Is.  Everywhere.  Elliott is 2 weeks away from his 4th birthday and I am feeling the difference in their ages now more than ever.  I have always been one to get down on the floor and play with my kids and Elliott truly needs this kind of attention.  He is constantly asking me to play with him and I do my best to give him a good balance of play time with me and encouraging him to do things by himself.  But, with Jude spending more and more time awake, I am finding it increasingly difficult to come up with things to do with both of them at the same time.  Elliott is craving structure and Jude is the master of destruction!

I keep telling myself (and Elliott) that it won’t be long and Jude will start to understand that it isn’t nice to knock someone else’s blocks down.  He’ll learn the word “no” and actually respond to it.  He’ll learn to ask for a toy before grabbing it.  And, I long for the day when they are truly, truly playing together.  Chasing each other up the tree house.  Sitting down to play Uno.  But, truth be told.  We are not as close to this stage as I’d like to be.  I realize that this is all part of life and part of growing up as a sibling.  But, I am running out of ideas…and steam.  I’m not sure how many people out there even read this little blog, but if you’re willing, I would appreciate any encouragement or suggestions for how to make the transition easier.  What do you do with your kids of different ages?  Does your older child spend a lot of time playing alone…at the dining room table!?  How do you encourage your older child to include the younger in activities?  What are some great activities to do with a toddler and a preschooler together? This only child, mother of two kids nearly 3 years apart would appreciate it!!



  1. Reminds me of a time about 30 years ago. All I remember is that I survived and my boys like each other now.

  2. I can’t help you here, but I was interested in responses in case we decide to try for another! I have always wondered how older kids & younger kids play together without creating a choking hazard, I guess the table is a pretty good idea for that 🙂

  3. My sister-in-law has two boys, ages 3 1/2 and 15 months. She has started doing a weekly craft and is blogging about it:

    You are pretty good with that, too, so it may not be much help. I know she also does Mother’s Day Out twice a week with them, so they get playtime with kids their own age.

    I was the younger sibling, so I don’t really remember how it played out in our family! But my brother and I were friends all through our childhood, so it must have worked out.

    I did read that same-gender siblings will have a tougher time of it, and that they generally choose different hobbies, etc. when they’re older in order to avoid rivalry. Maybe something similar could be done at this age?

  4. Lyd’s sis-in-law here, and I can relate on so many levels! In fact, I was about to blog about how I am learning about this sibling thing (and boy thing) since I am also an only child.

    I don’t really have any suggestions. I’m trying to figure out the fine line between just playfulness and mean-ness. My older one has started teasing the younger one a lot, and well, the younger one just started tantrums. Yay.

    One thing I do whenever our crafts can’t involve the little one is open up the toy box(es) or barricade him in brother’s room (with the safe toys) so that he can enjoy uninterrupted playtime. Whenever the little one needs special attention, sad to say it, but big brother gets TV time. Sometimes you need these moments of still and quiet to help make it through the day, you know?

    As Lyd said, mine go to MDO which is so I can work (very part-time from home). We go on lots of outings throughout the week… play places generally that allow the older one a chance to roam and the younger one to explore a bit, too. That also helps break up our day. (When the weather is nice, we do parks.) I’m sure none of this is novel… just some of our survival tactics, really. I hope someone chimes in soon with some stellar advice! 🙂

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