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Managing multiple children

Having more than one child is a whole different ball game, and brings challenges all of its own. If your home is like a war zone, try not to feel too down about it. It’s normal for brothers and sisters to fight and it’s one of the ways they learn to share, take turns and get on with other people. But if you’re looking for ways to create a bit more peace in the household, below are some tips to help avoid the fighting, and that might help you feel like you’re giving them all attention when you’re pulled in a hundred different directions…

Tip #1: You're doing great together

Sometimes we're too quick to pick on those moments when brothers and sisters are not getting on. Let them know how pleased you are when they're good to one another. A few positive words can mean everything to your children.

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Tip #2: Share out the fun stuff fairly

Letting them all take turns to do the wee fun things can keep everyone happy. Pushing buttons in elevators, holding your hand and getting to sit by the window on the bus are all huge events in your wee one's world. Making sure that these prizes get split up evenly can avoid them fighting for the things they want.

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Tip #3: Talk it up

There are lots of emotions that your wee one needs to get to grips with when it comes to sharing. If one child has a toy and won't give it up, you need them to understand how that might make the other child feel. "Josie loves her teddy, and she really wants to hug him at the moment." That can help to loosen a 'death grip' they have on teddy! Give your child plenty of praise when they do.

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Tip #4: Practice taking turns

Sisters reading

Sisters reading

Try turning one page of your child's bedtime book, and they turn the next. Then your older child turns the next one! Do the same with stacking blocks or putting puzzle pieces together.

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Tip #5: Private space

Try to give each of your children their own private place to keep their things. If you haven't got separate bedrooms, let them have a drawer, corner of the room or a box for their things. Help them put their name on it so they know it's theirs.

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Tip #6: Give them one-to-one time

If you can, try to spend time alone with each of your children. It could be at bedtime, or when an older one is at school, or a younger one with granny for an hour or so. If they’re a bit older, you could ask them what they’d like to do with you for this time; it doesn’t need to be something you have to spend money on, or be complicated. Even reading with them for 15 minutes or doing some drawing together is a perfect chance to chat to them and make them feel special.

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Tip #7: Be fair

When you’re feeling annoyed or frustrated with them, try not to compare your children or hold one of them up as an example. ‘Why can’t you be more like your brother/sister?’ is a tough thing to say to any child.

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Tip #8: Put a stop to violence

If they’re trying to physically hurt each other, make it as clear as possible that you won’t put up with punching, kicking, biting and so on. When things get ugly, separate your kids as calmly as you can and get them to spend time in separate rooms to calm down.

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Tip #9: Keep your cool

Try to stay calm. Don’t give your kids unnecessary attention for bad behaviour - they’ll continue to act up if you do. Focus on the good behaviour of the others and give them your attention.

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Tip #10: Make expectations clear

Let your kids know that while you don’t expect them to be best pals the whole time, you do expect them to respect each other’s differences. Help them to understand that it’s better to share and talk things through rather than fight!

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Fun games for brothers and sisters to play together

Tip #1: Fun for all

Find fun activities that can appeal to all your children, such as exploring outdoors, building a den or a scavenger hunt. Can they find 5 different kinds of leaves? You can make it a little harder for older children. Warmer, warmer, roasting!

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Tip #2: Construction sets

Construction sets can be a fun way to play with all your kids together. You could ask your child to tell you what they'd like you to help them build and chat about their ideas for building it.

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Tip #3: Make a band

Keep the kids busy before dinner by seeing if they want to make a "band". Give them some pots and pans and ask if they can come up with a song.

Your child’s development: This helps your baby learn rhythm – which actually helps "pre-reading" skills. There's a lot of learning in that pot banging!

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Tip #4: Modelling clay

Kids of different ages can enjoy creating different things with Play-doh. It’s a nice way to keep them entertained when you’re making tea as you can get them all round the kitchen table and chat to them about what they’re doing. And if you get 5 minutes, you can ask each of them what artistic masterpiece they’d like you to make for them from the dough!

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Tip #5: Artist’s studio

Children of different ages can all enjoy some creative time together. Give them some paper and crayons or pencils, and ask them each to create a "menu" for dinner, or a picture of their favourite day – or just whatever they feel like! It’s another good way to keep them all busy at the table while you’re trying to cook, and you can chat to them about what they’re drawing…

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Tip #6: Build a den

toddler in bed with mum

toddler in bed with mum

A duvet and some chairs, or a duvet over the bottom bunk bed. Challenge your kids to make a den together. Then fill it with what they’ll ‘need’ for their adventure into the Arctic or jungle…

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Tip #7: Board games

There’s loads of great board games designed especially for younger kids; you can pick them up for a pound or two in a local charity shop. They’re great for teaching your little ones about taking turns, winning and losing, and are something you can all play together.

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This article was created as part of

Play Talk Read