When Children Copy Older Siblings
I´ll Have what She´s Having!
By: totanaliz on: Wed 11 of Jul, 2007 [08:31 UTC] (698 reads)
Younger children look up to their big brothers and sisters, and love to imitate them, much to the annoyance of the older child. Here are some strategies to cope when the going gets tough!
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Young Alex just loves to copy his older brother Cameron. Almost 5, he worships his big brother and wants to do everything he does, have everything he has and even eat and drink the same things! Poor Cameron is left at times feeling like the victim of an identity theft as he struggles to find some way to avoid his little brother´s endless chant of “ I want the same as Cam”.
It can be very frustrating for the older child, and depending on the ages and sex of the children, it can soon escalate into all out war! Here are some things to try that might just help restore a bit of peace.
- explain to your older child that the younger ones just can´t help it! They admire their older brothers or sisters so much, that they want to be just like them. Try to help them see it as a bit of a compliment.
- Try to guide your younger child to be a “big boy” or girl and choose things for themselves occasionally. Emphasize that they needn't be influenced by other people´s choices.
- Buy your kids different stuff. Dressing them in the same outfits, getting two of the same toys all the time might seem like an easy option at times, but you are just reaffirming that the kids are both the same, despite their different ages!
- Split them up occasionally if you can, and make sure that each child gets some time on his own with both parents where they are free to just be themselves.
- Don't automatically let the younger child have the same privileges and rewards as the older, even if a tantrum ensues. Alex would love to go into the corner shop for milk like his brother does, but we wait outside and I let him know that when he is old enough, his turn will come.
- Reassure the younger child that as they grow and behave differently, they will be able to achieve the same rewards and grown up tasks.
- When they copy a sibling and end up making the wrong choice, reaffirm that it is better to have what they want as an individual than to copy. My son used to choose the same food as his brother at every meal ( whether he liked it or not!) and has only recently seen the wisdom of choosing things he really likes, regardless of everyone else around the table! After all, what is the point of drinking orange juice if you really like apple??
Rest assured that this stage does not last for ever, Alex was at his worst for about a year, then began to grow into “Alex” instead of a mini-Cameron! It was frustrating, but he has now discovered that there are many things he enjoys that no-one else likes and is learning the benefits of making his own decisions, however small.