Dear Dr. Rene,
What do I say when my younger child wants something my older child has or wants to do something my older child is doing, but can’t. How do I nicely say, “you are not old enough or big enough?” I particularly don’t like saying this because, as the baby of the family myself, I remember resenting that as a kid. Is there a better or nicer way to explain this to a younger sibling?
Mother of Two
I know this can be tough. The first thing I would give is empathy. You might start by saying something like, “I know you really want that,” or “I know that looks like so much fun. It’s frustrating he has that and you don’t.” Empathy and validating a child’s feelings goes a long way towards settling them down. They can feel that you at least understand their position.
Once you’ve connected, you can then be more matter of fact and share the limit. It is fine to explain, “he has that because he is seven years old. When you are seven, you can have one too.” Your younger child may still be upset and may not seem to understand, but it is okay to have the limit.
Following this you might give them some choices about what else they can do or find a variation of the activity that they could manage.