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Great question! You are doing a super Mom job with your two kiddos and I”m sorry that it’s messy! I only have one, but all my fellow Instructors with multiples tell me that it’s never perfect with more than one. It’s just not.
It’s great that you are going to take this whole situation to your Listening Partner. It’s easy for me to make suggestions from afar, but you really know what’s best for your family. Once you get some Listening Time around this and get to rant, rave and even cry about how hard it is, how you are doing it ALONE, and how impossible your kids are being – I suspect that you will have light bulb ideas, renewed patience and playfulness.
Having said that… I think you have a bit of what we call an UNWORKABLE SITUATION in that, try as you might, your 2 yr old CANNOT let you give your older Special Time. So what to do… You are already doing your best to manage Special Time with playdates. Maybe there is an older neighbor child who would watch your 2yr old for 30 mins after school so that you can give your 5 yr old Special Time.
Without help, you could try some rough n tumble games where the 2 of them gang up on you. – a sock fight, where the 2 of them try to take off your socks. Or Amazon has these soft snowballs. You could have a snowball fight. The two of them against you. Or your older and younger hide and you try to find them. You may need to do CONNECTING PLAY, rather than Special Time. Although some Moms have had some success with doing Special Time where you and your little give your older Special Time. Given the amount of sibling rivalry between them, I doubt that would work. But you might give it a try.
I think the big thing you need to address is their sibling rivalry. Here is a whole list of articles.
This article lists some games that can help, and I think some of them are perfect for after school when your older is having a tough time.
That brings me to your actual question about staylistening with 2. Recently I heard Patty say that when one child hurts another, we actually want to pay more attention to the child doing the hurting. If the child who was hurt is crying, we can check in with them for a second, but if they are crying, that means the hurt is coming out and they are in the healing process. The child who did the hurting is scared and stuck with anger covering over the fear. We want to connect with them before that anger hardens and makes it even harder for them to connect. So, when your older lashes out at your toddler, you actually want to BRING A LIMIT to your older. You can bring it firmly with love or you can bring it playfully with a Vigorous Snuggle. But you do want to put most of your attention on him and bring the limit. Here’s how Instructor Kristen Volk did it:
Kristen also wrote a great article on listening to 2 kids at once.
I know I’m throwing a lot at you, Mika To re-cap:
1) Get Listening Time for YOU
2) Use Connecting Play or games after school to help your whole family connect and to support the friendship between your 2 kids
3) Set a Limit on your older’s harshness and STAYLISTEN to him
It’s true that your older needs more Special Time. But unless you get physical help, it sounds like it’s not going to work to do it after school. I just know that you are going to figure out how to help your kiddos connect, even though they have to share you. Let us know how it goes…
Peace & Smiles,
Parenting by Connection Certified Instructor
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