In any family, there are strengths and weaknesses. Each family has their own combination of personalities among those who live there, which always makes for an interesting time.
With younger siblings, there are many common traits across the board, and some particular issues that will come up time and time again no matter what family you are taking a look at. It is important to resolve issues within your family and help all your children learn to respect each other and appreciate each other for their differences, if everyone is to get along and be supportive of each other.
Here are some ways you can help your youngest child to recognize and respect the differences between them and their siblings.
1. Teach Them to Respect the Position of the Older Child.
If you are blessed with a particularly responsible older child (as is the case in the majority of families), teach your younger child that it is a great thing to be the youngest, as they have natural role models among their older peers within their own family. Help your child realize the special position they hold, a bit like being a student among many teachers. This is not always fun for them, but it is certainly something they can grow to appreciate as they get older – especially if you have emphasized it from the time they are young.
2. Teach Them Responsibility.
Your younger child may be able to get away with more mischief, and you may be inclined to let them do so because you consider it one of the few perks of being the youngest child – or just because they are cute. This will ultimately backfire, however. Teach your youngest child responsibility, and it will help them to value the responsibility that their older siblings must carry. By sharing the load we learn to empathize with others, and this is most certainly the case when it comes to siblings.
3. Don’t Allow Them to Slip through the Cracks.
When you were a first-time parent, you likely obsessed over every decision, every move, and every morsel of food you placed in your firstborn’s mouth. The tendency is to relax as your family grows. In some ways this is great, and in some ways it is destructive. Your youngest child should never feel as though you don’t have time for them, or as though they are flying under the radar. This will breed resentment for their siblings, which can destroy any respect they might have naturally had for them. Keep things equal, and allow your youngest child to feel valued and cared for just as much as your oldest child.
4. Don’t Compare.
Maybe your oldest child was a mini Einstein, and your youngest couldn’t care less about school. Resist the temptation to compare your younger child to their older sibling with comments such as, “When your brother was your age…” and “If only you were focused like your big sister.” Comments like these can devastate and tear apart the relationships of your children with each other. Instead of comparing, focus on the attributes that your youngest child brings to the table. There should be room for individuality, and freedom from having to perform.
Raising a family has many challenges. If you would like to avoid some of the pitfalls of raising children who dislike each other and lack respect for their siblings, try to keep things running smoothly by using these ideas. Your reward will be a family who cares for each other and instead of animosity, shows value and regard for each other.