Hi, I’m Kilee and I’m honored that Molly asked me to guest post while she is recovering and figuring out the new dynamic of life with two little kiddos. I write over at ONE little MOMMA about style, beauty and life as a mom of four boys, Easton (6), Kesler (5), Knox (2.5) and Baker (3 mo.). Molly and I have been friends for some time and I just adore her upbeat personality and flair for color. Congrats on your new little one Molly!
In October we added a new baby to our family and with every new addition I’m A.) So glad I’m not pregnant anymore, and B.) Totally thrown for a loop as the sweet new baby somehow takes over our lives. It’s a big adjustment and I remember when we went from one to two kids it was really scary. I wondered how we would make room in our hearts for two and how our first little guy Easton would adjust to sharing Mom and Dad.
Well, we soon found out that your heart actually just doubles in size to allow for two favorite children and that Easton really actually liked this new little creature we brought home from the hospital. Our first two are only 18 months apart, but we have up to 2.5 years between the other kids. As we started to grow our family it became really important to us to have siblings that got along, and heck, even showed love to each other! We believe in God’s commandment to love one another and as parents, we started to see firsthand why God wants us to love our brothers and sisters here on Earth. It’s the most rewarding thing in the World to have your children care for each other. And the opposite is true too!
So how do we do that? How do we teach our kids to be good and kind older and younger brothers and sisters? This is a bit rhetorical, but I do have three ways that we have tried to foster that in our kids. And so far so good. They do fight. They do hit each other. They don’t always share or think about their brother before themselves, but we do have glimpses of it. We do have sweet moments and plenty of kind exchanges. And those make it worth it!
1. Start early. We started teaching our oldest to be a good brother really early on. It was one of the first things we really worked on teaching him. And we’ve told him countless times since Kesler was born. When we had baby number three, Knox, we worked on teaching Kesler to be a good big brother. And we’ll keep on doing it with the rest of them.
2. Instill in them a responsibility. We have taught our kids that it’s their job to look after and protect and take care of their younger siblings. Easton knows that if he goes somewhere with Kesler or another younger brother- he is responsible for making sure they are okay. That’s not to say we’re giving up on that part of parenting, but when we aren’t around, the boys know they are responsible for each other. We’ve talked about different scenarios where one of the younger brothers is getting hurt or picked on or left out. The older brother will get in trouble if he doesn’t step in and take care of his brother. They each know it is their job and there will be consequences if they don’t do it. This might sound kind of harsh, but we’ve really seen the boys step up to the plate. They understand that its part of being a family and part of being an older sibling.
3. Give them choices and chances to succeed. There is a lot of chatter in the world today about helicopter parenting and we’ve tried to avoid that. We really want to let our boys have some freedom to make mistakes or to do things on their own. Early on I would let my oldest boys take the younger ones outside to play without me. I don’t usually force my kids to share with each other, but instead try to let them see how their choices make the other person feel, good or bad. If they do something kind, we really celebrate how happy that made their sibling.
We aren’t perfect at it and our kids aren’t either, but I asked my boys why they need to be good brothers and this is what they had to say:
Easton, age 6:
“Because I love them.”
“To give a good example and maybe it will help other people to be nice to their brothers and sisters and then more people will have a better life.”
Kesler, age 5:
“Because you tell us to and because it’s your job to teach us to be good brothers.”
I’m sure many of you have tons of other great ideas and I would love to hear them! These are things we have done in our family and we will definitely adapt and change as we learn more. There is so much that goes into a family dynamic and raising kids. It’s the hardest job in the world for sure. Thanks for having me Molly and if you’d like follow along you can find me at ONE little MOMMA and @Onelittlemomma on Instagram!