The Joy of Sibling Rivalry

The Joy of Sibling Rivalry

I’m sure I’m not the only one with this problem. I have three boys, at 6 months old the youngest is too young to get involved with the politics of sibling rivalry (thank god!), however my six year old and two and a half year old are a different story.

The age gap is small enough that they now both enjoy the same things like playing with tractors, cars, trains, dinosaurs etc, but also big enough that their idea of how to play with said items differs massively.

The problem we have had this morning is that the Big one has created a ‘tractor house’ out of other vehicles that his big tractor can drive in and out of. The Little one has wondered in and just sees an array of cars, lorries, diggers and buses on the floor and goes hell for leather in playing with as many of them as he can. 

Little one is chuffed at all the driving he’s doing.

Big one is now in tears that his ‘tractor house’ is ruined.

As this is going on upstairs and I am downstairs, my initial solution is to shout ‘play nicely!’ up to them. I don't know why this phrase is even in my vocabulary, it has absolutely no effect on them whatsoever. So I go upstairs to impart some mummy wisdom, have a group hug and all live happily ever after.


So upon reaching their bedroom the following plays out:

Me – What’s happened?

Big – Little has completely ruined my tractor house and won’t get out of the way! (This had to be repeated three times as I could not understand a word through all of the blubbing)

Me – OK well I’ll help you re-build it and then we can show Little how your tractor house works and give him the spare cars to play with instead?

Big – No 'cus he’s just not listening to me.

Me – Yes but he’s only two so we need to show him what you're trying to do so that he understands.

Big – No! (Proceeds to climb up to his bed to cry)

Me – Right well if you’re deciding to waste time stropping then Little will carry on playing down here on his own, but that does mean your tractor house will be non-existent by the time you get back down.

Big – Waauugggghhhhh (or something to that effect).

During all of this, the Little one is either completely oblivious or, very cleverly, using this opportunity to play with whatever he likes whilst his brother is too pre-occupied with his Oscar worthy performance to moan.

Big then decides to come down from his bed and starts to re-build his masterpiece, unfortunately, this doesn’t last long as Little steps slightly too far to the right and knocks a flat bed lorry out of position.

This seems to be the final straw for Big and he promptly positions himself behind his bedroom door and proceeds to wail into the wall.

Little and I exchange a look of ‘oh dear’ and decide to evacuate the bedroom and leave him to it.

After about 15 minutes, Big appears downstairs asking for something to eat as though nothing has happened and as I type, Big is enthusiastically telling Little all about the animals and numbers on Show Me Show Me (eugh - I cannot stand that programme).

This plays out in some part pretty much every day, sometimes multiple times a day to varying degrees.

Recovery is usually pretty quick - a strop is had, tears are shed, cuddles are given, words are said and then they find a way to co-exist peacefully be it over their shared love of books, riding their bikes, being naked or watching Jurassic Park.

Ultimately, it's going to happen, because although they are brothers they are still two different little human beings having to share their toys, their mum and dad, the TV remote and at the moment, a bedroom. 

So I'll keep on with my mission to teach them to be tolerant and fair and hopefully, they may have learnt a few things by the time Tiny is big enough to join in.

Gemma Spencer

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