Wednesday, August 18, 2010


My question today is somewhat psychological, so please bear with me while I try to explain!

My oldest daughter is 2 and a half, my second is 10 months. I've been noticing lately that I don't treat them the same--obviously! The problem comes in that my 2 year old is also noticing that I treat her sister differently than I do her, and she doesn't understand why.

For example...

J (2 yr old) was climbing on the car jack laying on the garage floor. I asked her to get off and when she continued to climb, she had the consequence of sitting on the porch step until she was ready to listen again. M (10 mo. old) was climbing on the car jack--I picked her up and moved her away without really saying anything. All J saw was that she got in trouble and M didn't, even though they did the same thing.

M goes to bed with a pacifier every night. J has taken to getting out of bed and taking the pacifier from M so she can have one while she goes to sleep.

M drops food on the floor from her high chair--I pick it up and throw it away. J throws food on the floor and gets in trouble and has to clean up her own mess.

Get the idea?

While I see my responses changing based on differences in age and development, J sees that she gets in trouble and M doesn't.


How do I teach the toddler why she has different consequences than her little sister?

How do I make sure that everyone feels loved while still teaching boundaries and consequences?

And for my own sanity...Any suggestions on the aforementioned pacifier situation?

Hope that made some sense! Let me know what you think.



Jessie said...

I know with my daughters (similar in spacing to your two), I was constantly telling my older daughter (B) that the younger daughter (J) was still learning, and we needed to teach her. Instead of getting after B so much, I would ask her to help me show J what to do, or how to do something correctly, or how to behave... etc. It worked for my girls, because B really loved to help J, and inviting her to teach her was a big incentive to do what she should. I also would mention, when disciplining her, that because she's older, she knows better than to do whatever was getting her into trouble, whereas J needs to learn still. Mostly, I just talked to her about it all the time. And once J was old enough to know what she was and wasn't allowed to do, I made sure to use appropriate responses. It's so easy to baby every child after your first (or at least it is for me)--they grow up SO fast, and it's hard to remember that they're old enough to have consequences to their actions, too.

And for the pacifier thing--ugh, that's rough, sorry. All I can think of is a pacifier clip on the baby... and then, again, of course, talking with your older child about how they're the older sister, so they get to do these cool things instead of having a pacifier... help them remember that they've got it pretty good too, even without the pacifier. Maybe give her something to sleep with, too, instead of the pacifier? Just some ideas, sorry, I don't know what exactly will work with your child. They're all so different. :)

Tannie Datwyler said...

I was going to say about what Jessie did. When C gets a consequence and L doesn't - I just tell her that he is still a baby and he honestly doesn't know better yet. But that she is a big girl and she does. She generally accepts this. But now that L is almost 2 he is treated more similar to her and she sees that. It works out!

As for the binky - YIKES! I'm sorry about that one. You could do like Jessie suggested and get her something cool or special to have in bed that M doesn't get to have. I like that. Other than that, I'm stumped!

Delia said...

My kids are 5 and almost 2 and they still have this issue. Even though my 2 year old has consequences they are not nearly the same as for my 5 year old. They also are not super close in age so their misdeeds do not often overlap as much. I do something very similar to what the others explained. I turn it on the 5 year old. I tell him that the 2 year old is still kind of a baby and is learning from him. The 2 year old needs him {5 year old} to teach him what he is supposed to do by being a good example. Which is true and he takes pride in doing what is right so his brother will follow...most of the time. :) This can turn bad though. Sometimes he takes this as license to become the parent and to give consequences and such. I have to remind him that Mom will take care of it. That usually works. Good luck!