When the younger child becomes a bully
Have you ever been that mommy who screams words like these at her older child – ‘Give it to your brother/sister. Yes, I know you took it first but can’t you see you are the older one.
You are 5, your brother/sister is just 2. Let him/her have it’ OR ‘Why are you crying? Yes, I know he hit you but isn’t he just a baby? He didn’t mean it and besides, how painful could it be?’
Yes, many times the urge is to rule in the favor of the younger child because the older one should be more mature and able to make the sacrifice of letting ‘things’ go, for the sake of a baby sister or brother. Besides, isn’t it also about the older children learning to share and in addition, while sharing, shouldn’t they learn that they do not always have to have the first ‘turn’.
Okay, while I agree with this, I believe that the baby brothers and sisters tend to play this very important card to their advantage, way too many times. They begin to believe that it is their right to get everything and anything they ask for, at exactly the time they throw in their request. They expect that at the sound of their protest, which often comes in form of cries, the world must stop spinning and everyone and everything must fall into ‘line’. Bottom line, they begin getting used to having their way, all the time. They get so spoilt and that what we have is mommy, daddy and big sister/brother turning into puppets, controlled by the wants of baby brothers and sisters’. They also get away with naughty behaviours like ‘beating’ and what have you, with absolutely no repercussions.
Now, I don’t know if you noticed the word ‘wants’? Yes, the battle is often over ‘wants’ and not ‘needs’. Besides, the stage at which many of these baby brothers and sisters begin to insist on ‘wants’ is likely to be when they are already (or almost) toddlers and no longer babies. Hence, we must remember that even though they may go by the title ‘baby’, in reality, they are no longer babies.
Okay, I’m not saying that you should begin telling these little ones NO all the time or that you should start dishing out punishments to them. On the contrary, considering the fact that they are still trying to get a hang of their world, there are many times when it’s okay for their wants to be indulged at the expense of we, the older and more mature ones. However, we should also be able to tell them NO or WAIT, when necessary. We should also be able to find a way of correcting them by telling them stuffs like – ‘You shouldn’t have hit your brother. That’s not nice. Do you know that hurts? Now, say sorry’ or ‘No, I’m not giving you that. You would only hit your sister again’. This is especially so if you have an older child. Remember that the older child, even though older, is still a child. Hence, you don’t want him/her feeling less loved or cheated. Trust me, these young ones can handle delayed gratification, every now and then. They can also learn the art of ‘apologizing’ and showing consideration for the next person. They also have the ability to gradually embrace the concept of sharing. Yes, after having their 15 minutes under the sun, they can be made to at least allow their older siblings 5 minutes of their own before insisting on their own turn again. Believe me, doing stuffs like this will, in no way, hurt them. On the contrary, it will help them grow up into more wholesome and loveable children and eventually, adults.
Finally, let me end by saying that when these little ones cry for ‘something’, they are not necessarily ‘insisting’ on it, they may only just be ‘asking’ in the way they know how. Now, these ones trust their mommies so much that if only the mommies had waited a second longer, they would have been amazed to see that if they had stood their own ground by saying NO or WAIT, their ‘babies’ would have moved on extremely quickly from that all-important ‘thing’. Yes, unlike adults, these little ones definitely know how to take ‘NO’ for an answer without holding any grudges. In addition, they are also fast learners. As in, after a series of Nos, they learn that mommy does mean business and they quit ‘asking’. Really, the problem is that we parents are often too fast to rule in their favor, no matter what the cost may be.
Image courtesy of Prawny at FreeDigitalPhotos.net