Do I Force Him

Updated on July 08, 2013
M.J. asks from McLoud, OK
25 answers

My DD who just turned 6 loves her older brother. I guess the times he playes with her and is nice to her are so fun that she keeps looking for that to happen again. Problem is that he is close to 10 years old and likes to do his own things. There are boys in the nighborhood that come over and they play, he has his computer stuff he does etc. She keep crying that he is not playing with her. She has her younger brother who will play with her aged 4 but she really wants to play with her older brother. Do I force him to play with her? I have been teaching her that if others don't do what you want them to do then you have to do your own thing. Be self reliant etc. What would you all do.

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So What Happened?

Thanks - I feel better not forcing him. She has lots of activities she can do at home. I keep the house full of craft supplies, art stuff, games, puzzles etc. Problem is with her she has a social anxiety disorder called Selective Mutism. She can only talk to her brothers and my DH and I. She is mute around anyone else, thus she does not really have many friends. We do playdates with girls from school and we have plenty of outings, I was just wondering if I was supposed to force him to play with her when she wants to play. Glad to hear that I should not.

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answers from Chicago on

No, I would not force him. Keep telling her that her brother needs time with his friends and that she needs to find friends her own age or play with her little brother.

If she's going to cry or whine about it, have her go to her room.

5 moms found this helpful


answers from Washington DC on

Do you want him to resent you or his sister? If the answer to that is NO. Then you do NOT force them.

You have her generate her own friends. She can have friends over to play with her. Set up some play dates for her.

4 moms found this helpful


answers from Chicago on

Nope, I wouldn't force him to, unless you want to make him resentful of his little sister. My mom never forced my older brother to play with me. We are very close now.

How about inviting one of her schoolmates or a neighbor her own age over to play?

My boys are 6, 4, and 2. They all play together, but in different ways, and because they aren't old enough to just run around the neighborhood yet.

4 moms found this helpful

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answers from Honolulu on

I have 2 kids, a daughter and son, and my kids are 10 and 6 as well.
My son is the younger one.

NOW, just know that... as your eldest child does get older, there will be or may be....more distance between the 2 kids. Because- As a kiddo gets to be in middle school and a Tween then a Teen, they will be out a lot and have lots of other older, interests. And sure, the younger one gets left out, unintentionally and gets lonely.
I see this in my own kids.
My eldest is changing, physically and socially etc. But this is normal. She really adores and loves her little brother, but she is a Tween now.
This all REFLECTS the age stages... of BOTH children.

I don't force things between my kids. However, I do chat with my daughter.... since she is older and I explain to her that her brother misses her etc. She is going out more. She is getting older, her interests are changing etc. I let her know these things so she realizes. AND also because, when/if her friends are over, he "misses" his sister even if she is in the house. My daughter has compassion for her brother. And she likes to play with him. But when her friends are over, then sure... she is busy. And her friends may treat my son like a younger irritant. BUT, I tell ALL of the children, "This is Sally's brother. Do not ever, tease or boss him. You are all getting older, but he is only 6. You be polite..." because, as older kids may... they sometimes do just feel like my younger son is a pest. Even if he is not.
I... am also the youngest in my family. And I remember clearly, my siblings and/or their older friends, acting like I was a little thing in the way. And/or they would sorta boss me around.
So in light of that, I know how my son can or may feel, too. And I also chat with my daughter a lot. About how she or her brother may feel. Even when my son has HIS friends over, my daughter is out of the loop. But they learn that everyone has a time with their friends.

Your daughter, is "missing" her big brother.
She is having a territorial thing as well.
She "realizes" even if she can't say it... that her brother is changing. He is getting older. He is having OTHER interests.
But, it will be more and more as he gets older.
Its all growing pains for the kids. The emotions of it.

My son, who is 6, is VERY independent. And so much of his own person. BUT, when my daughter is so busy and out and about and having friends over (even if he has his own friends over too), he does miss her.
I KNOW... that he "sees", that his big sister is changing... physically and otherwise. She is just, getting older.
I feel sad for my son sometimes... but my daughter really loves her little brother and likes to hang out with him. But per her age, she is changing.

But no, I would not FORCE your son to play with her.
But he is a sibling.
And you also need to explain to the 6 year old, that everyone needs their space. AND why not have HER friends over too?

7 moms found this helpful


answers from Dallas on

ADD: If she has selective mutism, has she been assessed by the school district and is she receiving help? If not, please request this NOW. She needs a professional to help give her the skills to cope with her issues. You can only do so much and a professional can fill in the gaps that you aren't trained to take care of. Having the added responsibility of being the only people she can talk to is hard for your older son, even if you don't realize it's there. Professional help needs to be brought in for everyone's benefit.

ORIGINAL: It's one thing to expect them to play a LITTLE together at home when he doesn't have friends over. But he is almost TWICE her age. Think about that. She needs friend her own age. She needs play dates. Do NOT force him to play with her when his friends are over. Find a way to have a kiddo over that is her age, or do something special with her. Find out if your sons friends have kids HER age that could play with her.

7 moms found this helpful


answers from Norfolk on

They DO play together sometimes - which is fine.
Your daughter is just a bit greedy in this area and wants more attention than her big brother can give her.
Nothing is more aggravating than a whiny clinging tag along younger sibling that won't give it a rest.
She needs to do more to be responsible for her own happiness.
When big brother can't play with her, she needs to do something else.
If she can't keep from crying about it, she can do her crying in her room.

7 moms found this helpful


answers from Chicago on

My SD's mom forced this on her daughter and my SD has grown to resent her younger sister. My SD is 5 years older than her sister. Because my SD's mom couldn't take the whining, she'd force my SD to play with her younger sister with her friends. None of my SD's friends wanted to come over because they felt annoyed by her younger sister. My SD couldn't enjoy time with her friends because her sister was so much younger and of course bossy, whiny, and would whine to the mom that "The big girls were being mean" if they didn't do what she said.

My SD disliked her sister for MANY years, resented her and stopped inviting friends over to her mom's house.

My SD only invites friends over to our house. Her sister has grown up some, but my SD still resents her.

Don't do this to your kids!

6 moms found this helpful


answers from Portland on

I think your 'go do your own thing' message is a very realistic and healthy one. For about 6 years, I had a stepbrother who was a year older than I was. Did we want to play with him? You bet! Did he want to play with us? About as much as he wanted to drink poison.When we (the gaggle of girls) forced him to play with us, it was miserable for everyone.

That said, perhaps you could facilitate some family play times-- at the park, family game night, etc. or some family activities (hiking, letterboxing, going to museums or events) that are just family only. Sometimes, it's not so much about playing with each other as it is about making memories together. You could also noodge that idea along with some outings, just the two of them. Is there a store close by, where you could give them each a dollar or two and let them walk together and buy a treat? This would honor the fact that he is older-- old enough to be in charge of a short outing like this-- and that might be a way for them to spend a little time together in a positive way. (I have fond memories of walking the few blocks to the B Street Market with my sibs, each of us with some money for candy.)

5 moms found this helpful


answers from Kansas City on

I had younger brothers and sisters and I hated it when my mom forced me to play with them when I'd rather be off doing my own thing. I think you should encourage her to give him his space.

5 moms found this helpful


answers from Chicago on

You don't force him to play with his sister any more than you force HER to play with her younger brother..... In fact, this can be used to show her empathy for what her brothers are both feeling.....

As far as your daughter having selective mutism.... Is she in therapy? My nephew has selective mutism and I WISH his mother (hubby's sister) would have gotten him behavioral therapy when he was younger. He is 17 and its REALLY tough for him, because he didn't develop the skills earlier. Plus his mom and the whole family revolve around what's best for HIM, which is the WORST thing they could do. He only started getting counseling this past summer. So, please get your daughter in counseling now.

5 moms found this helpful


answers from Eugene on

Your son sounds like a wonderful older brother who makes play time fun for his little sister. For this, he should be rewarded, not punished by forcing him to play with her at her command.

Allow your son to set boundaries, and teach your daughter to respect them. Your son will enjoy his sister more if he's not required to cater to her crying. And your daughter will learn better ways to "invite" others to play with her, and develop her own skills and independence. And she'll learn to play with her younger sibling when she's bored, which will be good for everyone.

5 moms found this helpful


answers from Washington DC on

I would tell her that sometimes he needs to do his own thing. I would also try to find things that they can do together occasionally. I wouldn't force one child to play with another. You might say, "Son, I need to step out for a few minutes. Can you keep an eye on your sister? That would be very helpful to me and I appreciate it." AKA play into his "you are a big boy" needs. I never forced my sks to play with DD, but I find they (and their friends) often do and sometimes SD will volunteer to take DD with her. You might also start inviting some of her own friends over to the house, too, so she has playmates other than her big bro.

Something else you can consider is a family game night. There are games that they can both play with you and that might foster some warm fuzzies as a family. I'd also work with your DD on specific projects and hobbies for herself. Is she an extrovert and he an introvert (introverts can be social but need down time)? Then she might benefit from a class like dance.

I would, however, talk to him if you find that he's being unnecessarily rude or mean to the younger ones when he's with his friends. It is one thing to want to do his own thing. It is another to bully them.

Bottom line, though, is that she needs to understand that she needs to do HER own thing sometimes and I'm glad you are trying to teach her to entertain herself.

4 moms found this helpful


answers from San Francisco on

No, you can't and shouldn't force him to play with her. I know from experience that it breaks your heart to see your little girl disappointed that her big brother won't play with her, but that's life.

She will be fine.

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Los Angeles on

Well, I wouldn't force him to play Barbies with her, but I would orchestrate and encourage him to spend time with her. Try to find some activities that appeal to all your children and declare 2 hours per day "family time." That means no friends over, no computer/video games, etc. They can play board games, run around outside, etc. Like I said, you can try and find some activities that you know they'd all enjoy. If he's really resistant, maybe he can teach her how to play his computer games if they're age appropriate?

Don't make it a *punishment*, make it a privilege. Siblings can be a wonderful thing. But also be respectful of your son's private time, and encourage your daughter to do so. And if she's complaining about playing with her younger brother, explain that little bro wants to play with her as much as SHE wants to play with big bro; give her a little perspective.

You're right in teaching her that she can't control other people. But that doesn't mean that YOU shouldn't help to foster closer bonds between your children - just be subtle and sneaky about it ;) And make it FUN!!

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Muncie on

I see you've got some good answers.

I would suggest asking your boy what he wants. Maybe set a side an hour a day for them to play together. Something she can look forward to, something she can depend on happening.

I have a much older sister and she was my sun and moon. I know I drove her nuts with wanting to be just like her. I wish I had had a set time when I knew she would be able to play with me. It might have helped me stay out of her things and her way at all other times.

Good luck.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Philadelphia on

Definitely do not force him to play with her when his friends are over. He could resent both of you if you make him play. Can you invite a friend over for your daughter to play with?

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Austin on

No... she needs to understand that he wants to do things on his own, or with his friends.

That is really great that she adores him, and he is willing to play with her so much.... sounds like he is a really great big brother!

However, forcing him to play with her will just build resentment on his part..... no big brother wants his little sister tagging along with him all the time.

I hope she is getting treatment for her anxiety/selective mutism? Therapy with a specialist in this area? I don't know if you are against medication, but it can really help with anxiety...... trust your doctors to help you do what will help your daughter in the best way.

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answers from Miami on

Mom, I wasn't going to answer this seeing that you were happy with your answers, until I read the word "mute" in regards to your daughter. She doesn't talk to anyone other than your family? Does your daughter have a speech therapist? She needs one who has experience working with selective mutism. PLEASE get her help with this if you aren't already. You mustn't just assume it will work itself out on its own.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Toledo on

I don't think there's anything wrong with asking him to play with her for an hour or two each day. That would still give him lots of time with his friends and his other interests.

Also, make sure you give her ideas of things to do. Does she have playmates in the neighborhood? Or friends you could invite over for a playdate? I'm not sure it's completely fair to tell a six year old to be self reliant.



answers from Los Angeles on

No way. When he has his own friends over - boys who are also his age - they don't need a 6 year old girl tagging along. He needs to be able to be himself and bond with his friends, form his own relationships, and not worry about how his little sister fits into the picture. I think you'd be doing him a major disservice by forcing him to include his sister.

If your schedule is busy and free time is limited, and since she loves his company so much, maybe you can schedule a couple of "play dates" for the two of them throughout the week. Have special time set aside for them to play together. Just unstructured free play just the two of them (or little brother too if you you/they want).

He's getting older and probably doesn't see himself as much as a little kid anymore, so six seems very young to him right now. Let him have some space, but also try to find some times for them to spend together.



answers from Davenport on

I would say there has to be a happy medium, schedule some time each day that they will spend together and some time for her to spend with her younger brother too, and for the 2 boys to be together without her, and for all 3 kids, like a rotation. But make sure she can entertain herself, too. DO NOT make him entertain her while his big kid friends are over, and teach her that that time is reserved for them - maybe do something fun with her yourself - baking or making supper, or reading time.

Some of both.



answers from Washington DC on

You're right not to force him. If she has selective mutism, does she see any kind of counselor or therapist regularly? I would talk to that person (without her present, of course) about how you should be talking with her about this and how best to get her to learn that he needs his space. She is relying very heavily on him as a playmate because she doesn't yet relate to other kids verbally-- that is something her therapist would want to know and work on.

Meanwhile, see if it might help to have specific, planned activities that they can do together and which they will both enjoy, and which will help draw her out while also engaging him. Just telling him "Play with her" is not going to help since many kids freeze up when told "just play" and aren't sure where to start, and he doesn't want to include her in his computer stuff etc. (nor should he have to). If you have things planned for the entire family to do as a family, it will be easier to get him to interact with her. But don't force it or he will be resentful toward her and see her as an annoyance, and even she will eventually feel resentful toward him instead of wanting him to play.



answers from Minneapolis on

My daughter is 6 and my son is 9. Same thing happens to us. I try to get them to play together once in a while. But if he has friends over I tell her that it's his friends and they don't have to let her play with them. I will have her have friends over too.



answers from Eau Claire on

I wouldn't force him, but I would plan an activity or two daily that involve both of them so they have some interaction together and some apart.



answers from Minneapolis on

The mute factor has totally changed my answer on this one. If she is basically incapable of making her own friends (little girls her age are mean enough without having an anxiety disorder to make fun of her for..poor kid)....she can only talk to two other children (her brothers) and one won't play with her. Arts and crafts cannot replace human interaction. I would make him play a game with her daily or read her a book. I am sure you are getting her help otherwise you wouldn't have the diagnosis. Just don't let her big brother reinforce her "different factor" and she may just start moving in the right direction.

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