Giving older sibling quality time

Dear Patti,

This is a question for my sister. She has two boys ages 3 1/2 and almost 2. The 3 1/2 y.o. is giving them so much trouble they are worried about bringing him to my house for Thanksgiving. It seems he is sweet and wonderful at Pre-school but awful at home. Disrespectful, destructive, doesn't share, etc. She said he is constantly in time out or they give him spanking on the seat.

I suggested that he needs some quality time without the younger brother. Put baby so bed 1/2 hour earlier and let him know he gets to stay up later because he is older. Maybe get a babysitter and take just the older one out and leave baby home. Do you think this will help? It sounds like he is getting some negative attention. Any suggestions so she can come to my house and not feel he is going to destroy the place!

Thanks,
Theresa

Question:

Dear Theresa,

You have certainly given your sister very good advice. Your nephew does indeed seem to be exhibiting the classic signs of sibling rivalry! The only thing I can add to your excellent suggestions is that they need to be accompanied by the appropriate talk: "Boy, isn't it fun to be by ourselves without the baby?" and "I bet it's really hard to have a little brother always getting in the way," and comments such as this will help alleviate some of the anger the big brother is carrying around. Then he won't need to act all of it out. This may take a little time, because it's late to introduce these concepts. But they will work.

As for Thanksgiving, I think I would make a list of good behaviors for the big boy. (A short list - he's only 3). If he can follow them at Thanksgiving, he gets a special privilege, such as a movie alone with one parent, which the younger child doesn't get. I hope it works, and that your house is safe!

Best,
Patti Greenberg Wollman

Answer:
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