For the past few months, Corey and I have finally been able to step back and enjoy the relationship Rudy and Maude are forming. It's a sweet friendship that's mostly nurturing, occasionally jealous and often silly! Watching Maude copy her sister's antics or watching Rudy help Maude get dressed is now one of my greatest joys as their mother. It's so crazy to watch them forming this bond that (hopefully) will last long past my own lifetime.
Until recently, their play still needed a lot of intervention. Rudy needed reminders to include her sister and they both often needed reminders to share but these days they seem to regulate themselves quite well. Sometimes, when we are out and about, the girls insist on holding hands the entire time. It melts my heart!
Many people ask us what we do to encourage the girls to get along so well. My first instinct is to say "nothing" and assume that it's just luck and their temperaments... and it is those things to a large extent! But when I think carefully, I see that we made some deliberate decisions early on to help curb jealousy and create a bond. Now these things have become habits for all of us but I'll share some of the conscious things we have done. (Not that we're experts, because we're certainly not! I'm equally interested in hearing your tips!)
- I remember when I was pregnant with Maude. We read so many books to Rudy and we made sure the books focused on the big sister more than the baby. We wanted her to feel really special in her new role.
- The first time Rudy visited me in hospital after Maude was born, I made sure not to be holding Maude so Rudy could climb into bed with me right away. Then I could gently ask "Shall we take a look at your baby sister?"
- In those early (newborn) days, "Baby Maude" seemed to find such cute little presents to give her big sister! Bribery works... and I learned this tip from my own mom!
- When Maude was a newborn (and still pretty boring to a toddler) we sort of gave her a personality by speaking for her to make it easier for Rudy to relate to her. "Baby Maude wants to know if she can listen to a story with you!" "Baby Maude thinks that's funny!" "Baby Maude wants you to sing a song to her!""Baby Maude loves you!"
- It goes without saying but we always make an effort to give them each individual time with each of us to show them how special they are so there's no need for them to compete for our attention. When either enters the room, they need to see our faces light up.
- We often speak as if they're a team: "What are you sisters up to now?" "You girls are so silly and funny!" "You girls are such awesome sisters!"
- We force them to share. If we are giving them a treat or even a snack, we usually give it to one and tell her to go and share it with her sister. This way, they get to practice sharing and they know it's their sister who usually brings them a treat.
- They each have several photos of the other in their rooms as well as photos of the two of them together. We like to weave a family culture into their daily life.
- We encourage them to kiss and hug their sister goodnight. Every. Single. Night. It's one of the last things each of them do.
- Finally, we encourage lots of silly, rough play! I think they bond more easily while running through the house shrieking or while jumping on the bed bashing into each other than they do playing quietly.
So now I'd love to hear from you guys. What do you do to build sibling bonds? Have I missed any really good tips? I'd love to hear what has worked for you! I'm especially interested to hear tips that may help as they get older. I hear the teenage years are tough! haha