Sometimes there’s a BIG age gap between kids. Whether it’s planned or not, it happens. But parents can focus on helping kids connect when there is a big age gap, and actually find success!
My two sons are almost nine years apart. There are four girls sandwiched between them.
Sometimes I run out of ideas on how to help them enjoy similar interests because one son still loves Thomas the Train, and the other son is into anything camouflage!
Though a big age gap is a part of their relationship, they have grown pretty close over the past four years. That makes this mom’s heart jump-for-joy happy!
There’s a few reasons why I think they enjoy such an awesome relationship — and I’m sharing what I think those game-changers are. For sure, it doesn’t happen naturally. It takes thought, work, sacrifice, love and respect — just like any other relationship in our lives! I hope you find an “aha” moment or two below and enjoy the happiness that comes from kids that have super-close relationships with one another — age gap or not!
Helping Kids Connect When There is a BIG Age Gap
- Be aware of the “too cool” teen attitude that pervades society. My husband and I absolutely despise the “I gotta be super-cool” attitude that teens are notorious for. Is that attitude allowed in our house? Nope. Never. Ever. Teens are not too cool for adults or small children. Period.
- Never forget the most important thing: LOVE. Remember the Bible verse that says, “Love thy neighbor as thyself?” It’s still in the Bible and it still applies to brothers, sisters, teens and kids. Anytime we perceive our children not being kind or having a hateful spirit, we address the attitude. No, we can’t touch a button and make them love someone, but we can teach them through our words and actions. We can also not allow any hateful behavior in our home. In our home, the younger child should love and respect and older child — but the reverse is true as well.
- Respect the need for personal space. Our kids share bedrooms, but sometimes they need some extra personal space. I completely understand this need and try to stay sensitive to their “alone time” needs. Little brothers and sisters can wreak havoc on an older siblings nerves if no one places boundaries on time and space.
- When it comes to kids and teens, enforce property rights. What would I think if my neighbor came and took my car for a spin without asking? I would NOT be happy — at all. The same principle applies to my children. Siblings are not allowed to touch one another’s personal possessions without permission. No matter how cute the “baby” pf the family is, he should never be allowed to destroy the older kid’s toys, clothing, games and especially sticker collection! I speak for experience — wink, wink!
- Encourage sharing and giving. If you spend some time with our family, eventually you will hear someone verbally praise another person when they seem them share or give. Some of the sweetest sounds in our home are the sounds of tiny voices saying, “You can play with this car because it’s your favorite.” Or “She can sit in that seat today.” Other times you will see a child dig into their wallet and pull out $2. Why? So that child can buy a surprise for another sibling! We never, ever let those sweet expressions of selflessness go without recognition and praise!
- Be careful not to favor any child above another. The story of Joseph and his brothers is a vivid, Biblical example of how a parent’s favoritism can create jealousy, envy and even hatred. Joseph suffered many things, even though he was completely innocent, as a direct result of his father’s favoritism. Yes, our parenting decisions do affect our kids — in major ways!
Do your children have close relationships, even when there are large gaps between them? Share your thoughts about this topic with other moms in this community on Facebook!