Any time you have children with a great difference in ages, you can count on there being problems between your kids. Older children tend to make fun of younger ones, specifically their immaturity; making a point to forget that they were that immature a few short years earlier.

It is important to understand that humans are competitive by nature. The teasing and put-downs you see your children doing to each other is part of that competition. While it isn’t a very mature way to compete, many think that they look better when they show that others aren’t as good as you. This isn’t a problem limited only to children, either. Politicians are famous for this same sort of competition.

Nevertheless, younger children tend to look up to their older siblings. They are jealous of the rights and privileges these older children have, and can’t understand why they aren’t treated the same. At the same time, the older children want to maintain the difference between what they are allowed to do and what their younger brothers and sisters can. Once again, it makes them feel like they are more mature.

All too often, parents are trapped into the role of being peacemakers, reacting to whatever the latest crisis is between the older and younger children. The only ways out of this trap are to let the children kill each other (normally not a good option) or become proactive about the situation.

Teaching children to be loving and nurturing to their siblings can be just about as hard as teaching a pig to whistle, but it’s not impossible. You can teach older children to care about and care for their younger brothers and sisters. It helps to paint them in the role of protector, guide and mentor. Of course, there is the risk of them guiding and teaching the younger how to get in trouble, but if you’ve trained them right, they shouldn’t be doing this themselves. Let them help their younger siblings and they will suddenly feel more mature, virtually eliminating the competition.



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