As an only child I never had to worry about siblings, or feel jealous over the attention they were receiving. I always wanted a brother or sister, but now I look back and I listen to my friends and family (especially Adam whose not close with his older brother at all) I’m quite pleased I was an only child! With my own children I notice the sibling rivalry from time to time, it would be weird if it never happened, right? Just little things like the odd shove from Toby when he is sat on my mum’s lap (he is incredibly close to my mum, he idolises her) with a whispered, “My Maw Maw” and the occasional, “Stop doing that to MY Daddy!!” from Reuben. Notice how no one fights over me…
Moving swiftly on.
It’s coming up to Toby’s birthday and I’ve been talking a lot about his birthday party, organising party bags, writing invites etc. I’ve noticed a few times Reuben has asked me what exactly is he getting, or why he isn’t having a party now. I think it’s a great opportunity to teach children that they don’t always get something just because others do. We’re very much a ‘If one gets the other must’ type of family for the daily grind, but when it comes to celebrating achievements or birthdays, I think it is categorically wrong.
When it comes to birthday’s, or Reuben achieving a behaviour award at school (haha anyone that knows Roo will think I’m a comedy genius with that one), Toby getting a new badge at swimming etc, I think it’s a really good opportunity to teach children that they aren’t always going to be given something *just* because their sibling or friend is getting it. As a child, it’s important to learn that sometimes others get, and you don’t. Be that for hard work or on a birthday, everyone is entitled to their ‘special time’ without it being jumped on by someone who ‘doesn’t want the others to be left out’. In life we get left out sometimes, and that’s ok. I often think that if we can’t teach our children that it’s ok to be “left out” then how can we teach them to celebrate other’s achievements and recognise what they do.
When I talk about being ‘left out’ I don’t mean pushed to a side and forgotten, but I mean not given gifts or extra treats/praise for someone else’s achievements. We’re planning Toby’s birthday party and I ask Toby what he wants for the party bags, invites, where to go etc, but then when Reuben asks ‘What do I get?’ I will say, ‘Well, this time, it isn’t up to you because it’s Toby’s special day, but what would you like to do for your birthday in March?’ – it reaffirms that this day is not about Reuben, doesn’t detract from Toby but softens the blow that life isn’t all about you. At the same time, the boys learn perspective and without it I can understand why sibling rivalries occur, would you like it if you achieved something at work and someone else got a bonus because of it? Or someone else was given a gift on your birthday just because? No.
We come up against this topic every birthday because we have family members who disagree with our views, and always buys a small gift for every child, as well as a bigger present/s for the birthday child. It’s done purely out of love and well wishes, but it’s not something that I’ve ever known happen before and I do find it really odd.
What are your views for birthdays and achievements, is it a good thing to be left out sometimes?