I am very fortunate to have been introduced to RIE, as my children’s childcare providers shifted to a RIE based program. We have been very happy and impressed with this shift, and we are trying to incorporate much of the RIE philosophy into our own parenting. I found it very helpful to read Magda Gerber’s books to get examples, and see scenarios to help guide my interactions. I would love a resource to help me figure out how to apply the RIE philosophy to my older son — almost 4. It is challenging to adapt what seems to be appropriate for infants and young toddlers to this preschool age (and older).
In general, I get it, but I could really use help figuring out how to deal with situations when he runs away, won’t listen or engage at all or just yells, “stop talking to me” again and again. I also do not know what to do when the two siblings have a conflict. I see that at school with the infants and toddlers, they really let them work most of it out. But when my almost 4 year old snatches something from his 16 month old brother, it seems like the power difference is so great that I am not sure this is appropriate.
I would love suggestions for resources to help! I am sure there is something in your blog about at least parts of this, but I have not found it yet.
Thanks in advance for any suggestions and for your insight.
Sorry it took me a while to get back to you!
Four year olds can be very challenging. Like age two, it can be a time of testing and rebellion. Being a big brother, sharing your mom and dad with a younger “rival” can be tough, too. It is a little hard for me to guide you without knowing, for example, what it is you are saying that your son doesn’t want to hear, or where you are when he’s running away. Running away when you are walking on the street or somewhere else that is potentially dangerous is one thing (and I would insist he hold your hand when you are on or near the street, in a parking lot, even on the sidewalk). Running away when you are trying to tell him something at home is another.
Generally, try to see his misbehaviors as just impulses — behaviors that he will learn to control — rather than viewing them (or him) as “bad”. In the meantime, you are there to guide him by helping him regain self-control. Getting upset, lecturing (even briefly) during the episode can fuel the fire and cause him to act out more. The approach I describe in my discipline post No Bad Kids — being kind, but firm, unemotional and “in charge” — works best for this age, too. Stop him, but don’t get mad. Specifics would really help me view the situation more clearly.
I would calmly stop the 4 year old from hitting or hurting his brother, but snatching toys is going to happen and I wouldn’t make a big deal out of it. Little brother probably doesn’t mind as much as you do. If you ‘charge’ the small stuff with a lot of energy, it can make things worse for both of them. It would be great if little brother could have a safe, gated-in area where he can play. Older brother could be allowed to go in and join him if he is in a calm mood. This also allows him to keep his older child toys (especially those that are unsafe for his brother) to himself, away and protected.
I encourage you to try posing a couple of your questions in my new Community section, and here’s why… Many of the people who have joined so far are professional caregivers. At least three of them have their own child care centers. Two others are RIE home caregivers. A few are already RIE Associates, some are enthusiastically training. There is a wealth of information that they could share with you. We also have a book review section, and I’ll bet you can get some recommended resources that are RIE compatible and geared toward children your older son’s age. I can’t think of anything to suggest myself besides Siblings Without Rivalry, or 1, 2, 3, The Toddler Years. You’ll see with your younger son that by practicing the RIE principles with an infant and toddler you create a relationship dynamic that naturally extends into later years.
I hope this helps! (Thank you for asking!)
P.S. One of my favorite children’s picture books is about a mother dealing with a rivalry between two sons. It simply and exquisitely captures the feeling I’ve had of loving each of my children differently, but with equal passion. I Love You The Purplest always brings tears to my eyes. It might bring some clarity and comfort to you and your boys.