Sibling separation

When one sibling goes off to school, it might be hard on your other child. Here's how to cushion the separation

Q: My girls, aged two and four, are best pals. How do I cushion the blow for my little one when her sister goes off to kindergarten in September — without stealing any of the thunder from my big girl?

A: Be careful not to see problems where none exist. Watching the elder child get to do things first is a reality for the younger child and she may handle the change just fine. In fact, she may be excited for her sister, as well as looking forward to being an “only child” for a few hours each day.

Still, there are a few things you can do to prepare. Visit the school with both children so your little one can see where her sister will be. (If you can’t go inside the school, show them the outside of the building.) Be matter-of-fact when you talk about kindergarten, and let the younger girl know her turn will come in a few years.

Even though your girls are close, the elder will meet other children her own age at school and may sometimes choose to play with them instead of her little sister. Your little one will find it easier to deal with the occasional slight if you help her cultivate her own group of same-age friends. So consider signing her up for preschool or some local activities where she can meet other children.

Plan some projects for you and your little one to do, just the two of you, while the four-year-old is at school. When my eldest started kindergarten, her younger brother and I hung out in the kitchen, where he learned how to knead bread dough — and we both had a wonderful time.

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