Skip to main content

When the Baby wants Everything their Big Sibling Has

Any parent with multiple children has probably been there. You're older child is happily engaged in something, anything, and here comes your baby or younger toddler. And, all your younger child wants is whatever your older child is doing. Your baby doesn't care if the work is too small, or dangerous, or not appropriate all they want is that thing. What do you do? 

This exact scenario has been playing out more and more in my home as Teddy gets older and more mobile - especially between Gus and Teddy. Gus still mostly works in the same shared playroom space as Theodore. He is at a table that Teddy can reach. And, he's at an age that Teddy just wants all the super engaging, tiny work that Gus loves. Gus's first inclination is to shove Teddy away from his work. Gus does it mostly out of concern, he knows that Teddy shouldn't usually have what he is working on. But, he also does it out of annoyance, he doesn't want Teddy to disrupt what he is doing. So, how do I respond? 

Montessori parenting tips for helping babies and toddlers share their toys. 3 tips for keeping babies from playing with big sibling toys.

Redirect, Where Possible

It's always my goal as a Montessori parent to protect the child that is concentrating. So, where possible, it's my job to redirect the baby away from the bigger sibling's work. That might mean, physically moving Teddy away from Gus. It might mean engaging him in a toy or material that is more age appropriate. This step requires me to be fairly close and to be observing both Gus' concentration and Teddy's interest in what Gus is doing. And, I'm not going to lie, there are just plenty of times that I'm not able to pay that close of attention or I can see it coming but I'm not physically close enough to intervene before Gus will. So, then what?

Teach Your Child This Phrase

"I need your help mom." This simple phrase has been a lifesaver. It seems so obvious to us as adults, but in the moment, it can be really hard for toddlers and even preschoolers to access appropriate tools in the heat of the moment. If they get flustered, their first reaction is going to be to physically lash out. And, in those moments, your baby can get hurt. This is where a simple grace and courtesy lesson can come in handy. 

A grace and courtesy lesson happens at a neutral time when your older child is focused and calm. And you can role play how to respond in certain situations. So, for Gus, we role-played what to do and say if Teddy gets too close to him while he is working. "I need your help mom." It's learning in those neutral moments, and lots of real life practice, that help to give him the tools he needs for a real life situation. Then, in the moments when I do redirect Teddy, I make sure to reinforce that language by saying it aloud. 

Now, it's not always perfect. Nora (at 6-years-old) is far better at remembering to ask for help if she needs it. But, Gus is getting there. His first inclination is often now to ask for help, giving the situation a couple extra seconds for me to get there and redirect Teddy. 

Keep Your Expectations in Check

Eventually, Teddy will understand that he also has some responsibility in respecting the work of others in our home. And, eventually, Gus will have the control not to shove Teddy to the floor when Ted gets too close to his work. But, that comes with TIME. I need to make sure I am practicing with both my children, but I have to know that it's normal, it happens, and it eventually stops. 

I can have the expectation in my mind of what will eventually happen, but I have to match that expectation to the very real children in front of me. So, don't feel discouraged when your baby interrupts, don't feel discouraged if your toddler/preschooler (or even elementary aged child) gets angry and lashes out. It happens, but it will get there! 

Montessori parenting tips for helping babies and toddlers share their toys. 3 tips for keeping babies from playing with big sibling toys.


Is your baby interested in everything your older kids are doing? How do you respond? 
---

Comments

Mallory said…
I love this post. Thank you!!!!
Elahe said…
well said and practical! thanks!
My life every day right now! Thank you.

Popular Posts

The Ultimate Montessori Toy List -- Birth to Five -- UPDATED 2019

When you are interested in Montessori, it can be difficult to know exactly what types of products you should get for your home. Or which types of "Montessori" materials are really worth the price. There are no rules about types of products can use the name Montessori which can add to the confusion. Not to mention, every toy manufacturer slaps the word "educational" on the package for good measure!

2019 UPDATE: This post has been updated to include a variety of brands and new product finds! Just a reminder that no one child will be interested in all of this or needs all of this. These toys are just here to spark ideas and give you a feeling for some Montessori-friendly options available! 


So, with this post, I'm going to try to help with this confusion! Here's a list of Montessori-friendly toys and materials for babies, toddlers and preschoolers. 


First, let's clarify that there is no such thing as a "Montessori toy." Montessori never created to…

Sensitive Periods from Birth to 6 - A Chart and Guide

Dr. Maria Montessori spent her life observing, studying, and writing about children. During her lifetime of work she discovered that young children move through a series of special times when they are particularly attracted to specific developmental needs and interests. She called these times, sensitive periods. During the sensitive period, children learn skills related to the sensitive period with ease. They don't tire of that work, but seek it, crave it and need it. When the sensitive period passes, this intense desire is gone, never to return. 

That doesn't mean the skill is lost forever once the sensitive period is over. Instead, it just means that it will take a more conscious effort to learn. As Dr. Montessori explains, 
This post contains affiliate links at no cost to you.
"A child learns to adjust himself and make acquisitions in his sensitive periods. These are like a beam that lights interiorly a battery that furnishes energy. It is this sensibility which enables a…

Working from Home with Kids - A Montessori Schedule

One part of my life that I haven't talked a ton about here on The Kavanaugh Report is how I'm a work-from-home parent. Eight years ago I started to work at home while parenting full time. For the first several years, I worked as a legal writer while maintaining this space on the side. When Gus was born, I moved into working on sharing our Montessori life full time. It has blossomed into a full time career sharing content here, teaching courses, and now the podcast! Through it all, my kids have been home with me. 
This all seems more relevant to so many of us now that Covid-19 has closed schools and forced parents to stay at home and work while caring for children. I'm not going to lie - it's tough. It's hard to balance work and kids, especially when children are used to a completely different routine. But, it's not impossible! And, it can even be enjoyable. 

As I talk about in my podcast Shelf Help, we block our days into 3 hours groups. It helps me remain fle…