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Together Time for Kids Who Are 7 Years Apart

Our children are 7 years apart... my oldest brother (may he RIP) and I were 8 years apart and he was my best friend!! My 10yo is the polar opposite of my 3yo in everyway. Oldest is very reserved, and quite self-centered (I love him, but this was true at even a very early age).... our youngest is giving, shares well for a 3yo, and simply adores socializing w/ other kids (unlike our oldest). My problem is this... what can they do together for 'brother time'??

I don't believe in sticking my kids in front of a TV and saying they spent time together... I want to have a few activities they can do together... The oldest always acts like the youngest is a bother, or worse, like what he plays with is 'dumb'. I gently remind the oldest that he once was 3 also, and played with those same things. There's jealousy there, but to minimize that we always take individual time w/ each kid. Sometimes we feel like we have to split everything perfectly even or our oldest will point it out "he got more of that then I did" or "I never had one of those"...

The main thing is I want them to have some time together that is special and they can both enjoy a little... I don't expect my 10yo boy to want to spend every waking moment w/ his brother... but there are some days that I feel like he wishes he was still the only kid and that breaks my heart for our little one. The 3yo see's the sun/moon/stars in his big brother...

Rambling... let me know any suggestions.

2 moms found this helpful

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WE have the same problem! I do notice that whne we go to the park and play they play together and my oldest will play well with his little brother. Playdoh, they both play well with that and painting. If we do crafts I try to them together but maybe age appropriate. They love swimming together too.
The fact is though, the oldest was the only one for so long and that's hard for them. Good luck and I'm glad I'm not the only one! Something I try and do is point out when my older boy is being nice to his brother or helpful and I try and praise him for that and I set aside time alone for each one so that my attention is solely on that one at that time.

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Hi S.,
I'm sure the ideas others here have suggested will work well for you.

I just wanted to commend you for trying to address the sibling situation, and I wanted to extend my condolences for the passing of your brother. I lost my sister (8 yrs older than I) 3 yrs ago, and the grief still hits me hard. Which leads me to the point I wanted to share. I was the youngest of 4 kids: my sister +8yrs, a brother +8 yrs from her, and our eldest brother who died when I was a toddler. I never really knew my brothers, but I worshiped my sister as your little guy does his brother. She wasn't interested in playing with me, especially as she got older, and I do remember her being mean to me when we were young.

But after I became an adult, we became close, and closer still after we both had children. All of which is a long-winded way of saying, don't despair - if your efforts at encouraging your older son don't immediately pay off, they have a life-time ahead of them to create a relationship. I know it's sometimes hard for me to see the "big picture", especially having lost a couple of siblings and knowing that opportunities can be lost at any time.

I also have step-children (half-sibs) who are much older than my own two. The relationship between your sons, just like any relationship, will continually evolve. Having said that, it might be helpful to note that sometimes, no matter how much positive influence we try to have, our children's personalities just clash. You were lucky to have a close relationship with your brother (and I know that must make you yearn for your sons to share in that), but (I'm reminding myself here) sometimes siblings just don't get along super-well. I guess the best we can do is to foster respectful interactions regardless of personal feelings.

Another of your posts spoke of the difficulties with your 10yo - I empathize. It sounds like you are trying so hard to be the best mom you can be - my heart goes out to you. I like to think that our *intent* goes a long way. Parenting with our hearts, imho, is more important than "perfect" results. Trying to control outcomes can drive us nuts! In an effort to ease the universal feelings of "mother-guilt", I ask you to show as much kindness to and appreciation of yourself as you do your sons.

Best wishes, and congrats on being such an involved mom.

3 moms found this helpful

I have what we call family fun time with my kids. I have two 14 yr old girls, one 5 yr old girl and one 4 yr old boy. I have been doing this forever. We do crafts. They can be made for just pennies from things you find outside and around the house. We have taken pine cones and painted the green and glued beads and glitter to make mini Christmas trees. They make great ornaments if you add a string. We have also made bird feeders with pine cones. Coat them with peanut butter and then add seeds. We paint ornaments for Christmas presents, suncatches for Easter, and made reindeer out of popcicle sticks. I do all kinds of crafts. It makes a little mess but the pictures you get and the memories they have. Not everything turns out but hey...they had fun. I know the dollar store is great to find odds and ends for craft stuff. I made a 20 dollar purchase of large paints at Walmart that we use for everything. You can even find them on sale at craft stores. A 5 dollar glue gun and glue sticks is great. That is something that the adult has to do but is much fun. You can also get beads and ribbons from the dollar store. I am always checking the craft and wrapping paper row out. Hope you have fun with them also.

2 moms found this helpful

I would have a heart to heart with your oldest son. Tell him that as a big brother he has to show the younger brother how to do things-like riding a bike, reading, writing, putting legos together, painting, making mud pies or "driving trucks" in the yard. What is the big brother into? Legos, or fuzzy painting. or even skateboarding (get the 3 year old one with bars). Find something they can do together-like building a train set. You could even try cooking. Let them make brownies, cookies, a cake, something together. start small.

2 moms found this helpful

Their sibling time has to be integrated into their daily routine and character. I have an 8 yo and 2 yo who love each other like crazy. I started bonding them before the 2yo even came. I sat my 8 yo down and talked to her about the expanding family, the fun, and the responsibilities. I give my husband and 8 yo duties to help with the youngest as well as planning activities for just them. For instance, I may have my husband take my daughter to taekwondo or dance so that they have some time together. Or I will find activities that both girls can participate in so it's not as if the oldest is always leaving the youngest.

When it comes to disputes, we sit down and discuss how you treat people and what is expected not just in the family, but outside the home. For example, my 2 yo was yelling and the oldest told her to shut up. So I had to stop her right there and say we don't talk to one another that way nor would that be acceptable to say to anyone else. Then I told her when the yelling is bad, just look her sister in the eyes and saying you are being too loud. It is all about teaching them to respect one another and how to get their needs met, whether it is sharing, communicating, etc.

I have 2 cousins who are 8 years apart, one male and one female. They bonded extremely well and are still very close though one is a sr in high school and the sister has moved out of town. Regardless of the age difference, children have to be taught how to build relationships. Your oldest will have to be taught that name calling and constant isolation just won't be accepted in your family. With a younger child idolizing him, he should be able to provide a good example and bond in the process.

2 moms found this helpful

Can I suggest try bowling they both can do it. And they both dont need alot of skill for it. I put both my kids in bowling when i adopted my youngest they never realy did alot togther. an this turned out to be something they both enjoyed. I know at mac daddys they have bowling for 1 hour that caost about $20.00. and they can take thier time and use bumpers and the staff there will help. (that is 20 for up to 8 people)

2 moms found this helpful

WE have the same problem! I do notice that whne we go to the park and play they play together and my oldest will play well with his little brother. Playdoh, they both play well with that and painting. If we do crafts I try to them together but maybe age appropriate. They love swimming together too.
The fact is though, the oldest was the only one for so long and that's hard for them. Good luck and I'm glad I'm not the only one! Something I try and do is point out when my older boy is being nice to his brother or helpful and I try and praise him for that and I set aside time alone for each one so that my attention is solely on that one at that time.

1 mom found this helpful

I was the youngest old of my family. I have one brother that is 6yrs older and a brother and sister that are 13yrs older then me. We did send a lot of time with each other. The older two took me to the playground and read/told me tons of stories. My other brother had his own group of friends and was more into his own thing. Although, he did take time out to teach me how to do things. Mostly outdoor actives. He showed me how to hold a crawldabb(or crawlfish), and how to feed them to the nieghbors cat. My best advice is to ask your son to read to his brother. Let him pick the book, even if it's a chapter book with no pictures, and have him take 30minutes a day just to read to him. Or if there is something he can teach his younger brother to do, maybe even something your would not completely agree with a younger child doing. If you have friends that have children the same age as the younger, I would start getting play dates just for him. I understand wanting them to spend time together, but I would not push the issue. Hope this helps and good luck.

1 mom found this helpful

Hi S.,

What does your older child like to do? Is it something that he can teach his little brother? I know that my oldest (13) thinks it's really cool to be able to show a younger child how to do something. Explain to your oldest how great his little brother thinks he is, maybe he doesn't realize why his little brother wants to spend time with him. Unfortunately, the more you try to force it, the worse it will get. I do think that your oldest is old eanough to understand why his little brother likes him so much (even though he may think he is a pest). Sports and outdoor activities are a great way to play together. Your oldest is also old enough to understand that while things may not be exactly "the same" between him and his brother (Does he really want to be treated like he's 3?) that that doesn't mean that they are not fair. It sounds like you are making every attempt not to favor the baby, even though at 3, he does need more attention. You are working hard to give your oldest alone-time with each of you. He may be trying to play a power game because he knows you feel sensitive about this subject. Point blank let him know that you are not willing to play games with him in this area. You are being fair and doing everything possible to make his life happy and he needs to make a contribution, too. Don't let him "guilt" you into giving him exactly what he wants, when he wants it. You are the boss. Children tug at our heart strings and they know it. Remind him that his little brother will not idolize him forever, especially if he isn't nice to him and won't spend time with him. He will find someone else to look up to instead. Hope this helps. L.

1 mom found this helpful

First of all you have to understand that it is just not possible to split everything "equally". Your 10 year old is going to have to learn that not everything is about him and what makes him happy. My oldest is 16 and my youngest is 12. They get along better than either of them do with my 14 year old. They play video games together, go to the park, ride their bikes together and go outside together just to play. We take all three fishing and to the beach. They all understand that from time to time we will spend one on one with each of them for different reasons. My kids are good with this. I guess the overall thing I am trying to get across is that each one of our children know the others are not going anywhere. If they are mean to each other, we punish them by taking away video games, toys, or they don't get to do something they wanted. If they don't respect each other, how can they respect non family members.

1 mom found this helpful

I wish I could give you some good advice on this but, my sons are also 7 years apart my youngest is 12 and the oldest is 19, when they were younger around the ages of 10 and 3 they seemed to like bowling together.But nothing really seemed to bring a closeness that I would have like them two, to have.They were doing real well together when the older son started driving he took his younger brother everywhere with him. Thats when I finally thought I would see that closeness come in. But, then came the olders girlfriend at age 17 even then he would still take his little brother with him swimming, just for a ride everywhere. Then at 18 he got a different girlfriend and will not spend anytime with my younger son at all. This hurts my youngest son he crys and gets very upset, inturn I get upset and cry for my youngest. I don't know what to do anymore, or what I can do. I'm sure this don't help you but when I figure something out maybe I will be able to give better advice.

My little sister is nine years younger, and I am sure that girls are different than boys. I was thrilled to be able to play mommy. Thinking back though, what worked with us was letting me pick the activity, and she tagged along. I knew that was what was expected that day (she didnt tag along on my outings with friends) and she was just happy to spend time with her big sister. So I suggest letting your oldest decide the activity. The youngest won't care much what they do. And if you don't force the baby on the older child, you have a better chance of them being closer later. But there is nothing wrong with giving the older one responsibilities in regards to the younger. I was expected to babysit occasionally and do other things to help out. It didn't occur to me to think it was "unfair", it was just the rule. My sister and I are basically best friends now. We didn't used to be with the age difference, but now we are very close.

What about bowling? The youngest could use one of the rails that you put the ball on top and it rolls down the slope and into the lane. Bumpers can be put up too.

They can do some sort of craft at the table together...each has a craft age appropriate.

He can read a book to him. He can play Candy Land, Chutes and Ladders, etc with him.

Go to a park and do a picnic lunch and play on the play area.

ride bikes around the neighborhood.

go to the zoo together.

My boys are 5.5 years apart, and my oldest one is currently in 1st grade. They also have a sister that is in the middle. One thing that my oldest does is read books to the younger two. All 3 of my kids love books, and I can only read so many before I need a break, you know? So, my oldest, when he's home, will read to them. They all love it. My oldest gets some reading practice and bragging rights that he read a book to his little brother and sister. He loves to tell dad all about it. And it is so cute to see two or all three of them sitting together reading. So, my suggestion would be to take them to the library. Maybe your older son could pick out a book to read to the younger brother. Is there a subject that they have in common (our boys love vehicles and animals)? This could give the older boy a chance to share his knowledge with the younger boy, too. Best of luck!! Oh, and take pictures. Maybe you can make a little picture/scrapbook for each of them with pictures of those sharing moments.

This will probably improve as the younger one gets older. There's less difference in a 27 and a 20 year old than in a 3 and a 10 year old. Even a 17 and a 10 can do a little more together than they can now. Don't rush it, and don't give up on it, even if it doesn't happen real soon. For the time being, how about having the older one read the younger one a story, or explain the object of a video game he's playing?

John Rosemond, my fave parenting author, says kids shouldn't be treated "fairly". Life is not fair, and they shouldn't be taught otherwise at home; otherwise you end up with brats who can't deal with the real world when they get out in it. And truly, just as schools can't be "separate but equal", you can't make everything fair anyway. Dispense with trying to make things fair, and when the older one starts complaining, just say "life isn't fair", and move on. Frustration is good for kids (also says John Rosemond), because if they don't learn to deal with frustration and disappointment as children, you end up with adults who still can't deal with it, and that is not pretty. I highly recommend his book "John Rosemond's Six Point Plan for Raising Happy Healthy Children". You can find it on amazon, or his website (www.rosemond.com), which also has his weekly newspaper column.

Also, I wouldn't force the younger one on the older one, but there would certainly be ground rules for polite and proper behavior, and consequences for meanness (an hour in the bedroom, or an hour earlier bedtime, or taking away privileges, or missing a coming event, etc.) Good luck!

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