updated 23 Oct 2013, 00:05
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Tue, Jul 30, 2013
The Straits Times
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Get siblings to play together

Q: Despite repeated scoldings, my five-year-old son disrupts his seven-year-old brother's play.

For example, he destroys his Lego buildings or runs in circles around his elder brother, annoying him. What should I do?

A: Your younger child clearly wants to play with his older brother, but may not know how to approach him or join in the play positively.

Does your older son mind playing with his younger brother or alongside him? If so, he can provide a bit of structure so that his younger sibling can play next to him or even contribute to his play without disrupting him.

For example, if the older boy is playing with Lego, he can give the younger boy some blocks and suggest things for him to construct or ask him to imitate his own creation.

Big brother can playfully challenge the younger one to see who can build a taller, bigger or more colourful structure.

He can also get the little one to be his helper to look for specific pieces. This may work if the younger boy looks up to the older one.

You can facilitate their play if your older son is not yet able to engage his brother in that manner.

For instance, give your younger son his own set of blocks and let him play away from his older brother.

You could also engage the younger child in other activities, leaving your older child to play in peace.

If the activities are interesting, the older one may even join in and the boys may end up playing together.

The situation you have described could also be due to sibling rivalry.

If there is someone else to watch over the older child, have some one-on-one time with the younger one.

Take him to the playground or let him have a special bath-playtime to bond with him.

Teach him that there will be moments of me-time and moments of together-time among siblings.

Teach him about his elder brother's need for me-time. Use a chart that lets your five-year-old track how well he allows the older brother to play without disruption.

Provide incentives if he is able to contribute to three consecutive days of peace and disincentives for disruptions.

Dr Lian Wee Bin, who answered this question, is a certified paediatrician and neonatologist, with a special interest in developmental paediatrics. For details, go to

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