Sunday, March 2, 2008

Sibling Playtime

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Sibling playtime is when you have your children play together. I wanted to give a "plug" for it.

While Brayden (now 2.5 years old--33 months) wasn't jealous at the addition of Kaitlyn, he wasn't necessarily in love with the idea, either. Over time he grew to like and love her, but he still wasn't extremely interested in her. Kaitlyn (now 10 months old), on the other had, absolutely adores him and always has.

A few months ago, I was trying to think of ways to strengthen their bond and to get Brayden into playing with his little sister. It occurred to me to try Sibling Playtime. This is mentioned in Toddlerwise and beyond.

Each day after lunch, we would all go upstairs and have "sibling" playtime. I don't think either child is old enough to be left alone with each other, especially in the beginning stages, so I stayed with them. I was amazed at the fast improvement I saw in their relationship. After only a couple of days, Brayden would ask to play with Kaitlyn. He finally saw that she could do more than take up the time of Mommy and Daddy.

He now will play with her without it needing to be part of the routine. He will take her and read stories to her. He will try to teach her the alphabet. He loves to make her laugh and play silly games.

Also, I can now bustle in and out of the room if needed. I can get little odd chores done while they have sibling playtime. I still wouldn't leave them alone together for more than a few minutes at a time, but they know what is appropriate and what isn't. They do eventually need to play without "Mommy Hawk" over them so they can learn to interact without a referee (though admittedly one is rarely needed). We are taking it slow, and it is working wonders. There is little that warms my heart more than watching my two children lovingly spend time with each other.

4 comments:

Beth said...

I am trying to implement the various playtimes with my two children (daughter 4 & son 9 mo). I started BW (sleep schedule) with DS at 3 months and he has done wonderfully with it. Didn't know about it with DD and didn't even know there was more than one BW book until about a month ago. So everything (besides the sleep schedule) is still pretty new and feeling somewhat daunting to me at the moment. DD was, unfortunately, raised in a child-centered home. Transition to brother was and still is hard sometimes. Thus the desire for sibling (and other) playtime. Any suggestions for activities they can do together? She gets frustrated that he gets into all her toys, but he doesn't really sit and listen to stories yet either. As far as implementing an activity/playtime schedule, especially for DD, is it best to just do it? This is what I have come up with so far:

7:00 Me- read scriptures then shower
8:00 DD-Breakfast, cleanup, help unload dishwasher; DS-nurse, playpen time while we clean up
9:00 DD-Get ready for day; DS-Free Play
9:30 DD-Room Time; DS-Playtime w/Mom
10:00 DD-School time w/mom; DS-Nap
11:00 DD-Free Play
12:00 DD-Lunch; DS-Awake,Solids
12:30 Sibling Playtime
1:00 Walk/Play Outside
2:00 DD-Quiet Time/Movie; DS-Nap
3:30 DD-Craft Box
4:00 While I start dinner, DD-Room Time; DS-Awake,Solids then Playpen Time
5:00 Dinner
5:30 Couch Time
6:00 Family Time; DS may take a catnap
7:00 Bathtime for both kids and get ready for bed
8:00 DD-Dad puts her to bed; DS-Nurse
9:00 DS-Bed

I've realized that I do MUCH better with a routine and am still trying to find what works best for me. I haven't been having any "me time" and DD seems to be bored or out of control too often. By the end of the day, we are both done. But looking at this, I feel like she is "over-scheduled". Is this routine "normal"? Sorry for the hand holding, but like I said, I'm feeling a bit overwhelmed with this and would like to know that I'm heading in the right direction.

Thank you so much for your inspiration and advice. I appreciate it so much!
Beth
BTW-Congrats on #3!

Plowmanators said...

Beth,

I think at that age, I would just have them playing in the same room at the same time. I would have you in there, also. I would then start to suggest DD pick a toy to share with brother and try to keep him out of the other toys. As she grows to accept him there more, you can suggest she help you do a puppet show or something like that.

For the schedule, who knows what you are doing by now. I think it is good to start with "baby steps." Maybe start with meals and sleep all structured. Then add independent playtime. Once that is established, add your school time. etc. Just add things one step at a time so everyone doesn't feel overwhelmed.

Also, as you start the schedule, don't be afraid to change it. If it feels to structured for your family, lighten it up.

You might also consider having some things at certain times, then others just fall in between. So your meals and naps would all be at certain times. Then you just say between breakfast and lunch, I want DD to get ready, have roomtime, have school time, then have free play. Then you take things as they feel good for that day, but you don't watch the clock between. If school timei sgoing well, you don't have to stop it precisely at 11. Or if it is really not going well, you might have a longer free play that day. Hopefully that makes sense. Just remember that your schedule is to serve you and your family, not the other way around.

The Greenfields said...

Val

My DS is 32 months and DD 10.5 months. The older my daughter gets the more difficult I find playtime becoming. Much like your daughter, mine adores her older brother and likes to be near him. My struggle comes with my DS grabbing things from her and wanting to play with whatever she has. I feel like I have become a referee and I am going crazy
My son is a sweet boy and not aggressive, but he is 2.5 and sometimes his clumsiness knocks her over or bumps her.
I didn't want to be the kind of mom who bought 2 of everything so there wouldn't be fighting. I'd like my kids to learn how to share- obviously I think is is a great value to have as a family. So what tools can I use to teach him 1. not to grab things from his sister 2. not to away the things she is playing with
Also, is it okay for me to designate things just for her and just for him. Special things they don't have to share if they don't want to?
Thanks for any tools or tips you can offer. I am so thankful they are close in age and are interacting more and more as she gets older but some days I feel I am going to pull my hair out :)

Plowmanators said...

Greenfields,

First, I think you are wise to work on this now. Don't worry--this is normal behavior from an oldest child. He hasn't had to share his stuff regularly so of course he doesn't know how.

1. Work on having him hold his hand out and ask for it. Chance are she will give it to him. When Brayden and Kaitlyn were this age, I would have Brayden trade Kaitlyn because she didn't care what she had so long as she had something. But that honestly didn't turn out so well when she got older and cared :). So I would have him ask. If she gives it to him, great. If not, tell him he can have it in a minute when she is done, then you take it in a minute to share with him, or teach her to give it to him.

You might use a consequence that if he grabs things from her, he doesn't get to play with it, even when she is done with it. That way he has no incentive to grab it.

2. This is tied in with above, but basically teach both to take turns. Ask for something, and if the person being asked still wants to play with it, tell them yes in a minute.

3. I do think it is okay to have some special things that are just for themselves, and in many instances this is necessary because the younger sibling cannot safely play with the older siblings toys. I would still encourage sharing, and work on the "love" concept with your DS (see the moral training blog label for more on that).

It will get easier, and as they get older, you will be able to step back and let them control themselves and work minor issues out on their own--once your DD can defend herself :)

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