Help a Younger and Older Child Have Fun Together Without Arguments
Finding things to do at playtime can be challenging with one child. If it’s playing with a sibling age difference, the challenge is doubled. Read on to learn how to entertain children of different age groups at the same time and prevent the usual squabbles.
Many disagreements that stem from a sibling age gap are caused by a younger child disrupting the older child’s games. A little forward planning can help you decide whether it’s appropriate for all to play together, and will save you the headache of constantly sorting out arguments.
One Toy, Different Ages
Painting, drawing, and crafts can be adapted to suit play for different ages without too much trouble. After all, if you’ve gone to the effort of setting out painting, drawing and craft materials, it makes sense to ensure that all the children use it at once.
This doesn’t mean children all have to use the materials in the same way. Children with an age difference will use the materials according to their own abilities. Allocate one end of the table to the older child so he can set out his drawings without the other child interfering, or use a plastic tablecloth on the floor for one child and keep the younger one at the table.
Play Areas for an Older and Younger Child
Avoid disagreements during a play session by thinking beforehand about where each activity should be sited. Toys with small or fragile parts which are suitable for an older child could be set up in the playpen where the younger one would normally play. This gives the older child her own secured area and the peace to play without the younger one trying to join in. It also allows the younger child to have the run of the rest of the room.
Playtime in a Different Area of the Home
Sometimes, a change of scene can provide different fun and alleviate boredom. Instead of playing in the main living area as usual, spend a morning playing in the older child’s bedroom. This allows siblings to create games with their own toys and you can bring in separate activities for the younger child. Be sure to check that all small items are out of reach before bringing in the younger child into the room.
One-To-One Time with Siblings
If your older child has separate one-to-one time with you when the younger is having a nap, he’s more likely to join in positively when you’re all together. Make a big thing out of how grown up the older one is playing whilst his brother or sister is asleep, and concentrate on activities which are specifically for the older child while you have the chance. This can also work in the evening, when the younger child has been settled in bed.
A Friend for the Older Child
Allowing the older child to have a friend round to play usually means she’ll be entertained without much input from you, allowing you to spend separate time with the younger sibling.
These are always a challenge because of the need to keep an eye on everyone. Let the oldest child play first while the younger is content to sit in her pram with a book or snack or play round the seating areas. The oldest will then be more content to play alongside her sibling when she’s run off her initial energy. In the garden or a park, set out the younger child’s activities in a place which allows you to see the whole area. Then you can allow the older child to go off and play but still be able to keep an eye on him.