So along with a few blog tweaks (do you like my new look?) I do love a polka dot, other much BIGGER changes have been occurring between my boys in this house since my previous post A Brotherly Love/Hate Relationship…
For a start, my eldest son Oliver has pretty much (for now at least), got over his most recent bout of jealousy towards his younger brother Alexander, and dare I say it, they’re actually playing well together. I even caught Oliver kissing his little wee sibling last night. It was what womb-stirring dreams are made of.
This sibling rivalry behaviour is strange and hard to navigate at time; it’s something many of my friends with two of similar ages are complaining about too.
So let’s rewind, Oliver adored the baby when he was born and for several months after as he mostly slept and ate… before what I imagine was the stark realisation that this cute little dude was sticking around long term, taking his glory somewhat and wanting a piece of his parent’s affection…then things got a little more tense, especially when Alexander started to want to play with Oliver’s toys, eat his food and generally hang around him a lot, incapable of doing all the things he can and as Oliver puts it simply, ‘annoying him’.
We fleeted between photos of happy brotherly love like this one and mostly single portraits (hmmm) but things are improving. The boys are getting on better than ever and life is a whole lot easier.
This hasn’t just happened magically I must add, I’ve gently tried to help brotherly love along with the following subtle changes:
Change to the Day’s Structure:
Oliver adores and needs (as do I with juggling freelance life and kids) his time at pre-school but I’ve been picking him up earlier so he’s not as tired and therefore wants to play more with his brother on his return. Oliver also appears to really miss Alexander whiles he’s at pre-school and recently relished in showing him off to his class as if it were Wednesday’s Show and Tell, proudly announcing, “Look everyone, it’s my little brother Alexander. He’s so cute, isn’t he?”. *Heart melt moment.
I have been giving the boys a bath together and it’s really helping them to learn to play together and bond better, especially now Alexander is starting to communicate a lot more. Oliver enjoys making him laugh and Alexander’s adoration is utterly wonderful to witness.
Cuddles and Kisses:
More cuddles. We’re a tactile, loving family but it’s easy to forget how much more hands on you are with a baby because you’re constantly picking him up, helping him to crawl/walk (which in my case means a constant stream of kissing and cuddle opportunities) and it’s no doubt normal for your older child to feel a little left out. I’ve tried to shower Oliver with even more affection than usual (which is already A LOT) and I think this has really helped too.
Praise and Reward:
Very importantly, whenever Alexander is praised for being smart, cute etc. (which lets face it happens more with babies and their milestones), I always compliment Oliver too. Oliver was used to being the centre of so many people’s lives before Alexander came along so it must be hard at times for him, to now be sharing the limelight. Makes me really empathise with poor Danni Minogue.
If Oliver is aggressive or rude, pushing Alexander or grabbing toys from him, he is straight into a ‘time out’ (usually on the bottom step in front of the stairgate) for 3 minutes to match his age and made to understand why he needed that time and of course to apologise. Thank you the ah-mazing Ms Supernanny! Oliver actually responds well to discipline…and I do bribe him that the Head of his pre-school will pay him a visit if he doesn’t behave. Works every time. You can use that, go on, take it, it’s yours.
I’ve been spending time just Oliver and I alone together, even if it simply means the two of us going to the supermarket together whiles Daddy or the Grandparents have the baby, so he gets special, quality time with him Mama and I’m actively trying to have fun times (not just trips to the supermarket) together-we even went to the supermarket cafe which in Waitrose means pretty cups and croissants. Good times.
Peter and I also rotate putting each kid to bed offering each one our undivided attention.
So these are the steps we’ve taken and things are much more harmonious in this house…plus the boys are maturing (Oliver will be 4 in January, Alexander has just turned 1) and life has gotten easier for all of us. Let’s just hope it continues!
Photograph ©Vicki Psarias-Broadbent.