This imaginative pretend play activity is shared with us by our Blog Ambassador Carrie Anne Badov of EverythingMom.com.
There’s no denying the bond between siblings. Some days it’s enough to make a mother scream with the fighting and tattling but most days it is one of companionship, love and support. This is especially true as your child moves into the role of older sibling. As a big brother or sister your son or daughter takes on a parenting role to some degree; guiding his younger sister on how to put on her socks or hold a spoon; comforting her brother when he falls; reading a story to entertain his brother.
When a younger child wants to be the older child.
With my own three kids I have noticed this special role my two oldest children have played and it seems my youngest has noticed it too. She craves the older sibling role but we won’t be adding to our family anytime soon. Pretend play is a great way to fill this void, putting your youngest or even only child in the guiding role of the older sibling. A baby doll becomes the younger sibling that your child shares responsibilities. The added bonus, as a parent you can assign responsibility without fear of a real baby’s safety.
With their pretend new baby sister or brother, your youngest can exert their older sibling status by:
– Reading a story together, pointing to words they know and asking questions about the pictures
– Helping the doll draw lines or colour, working on a piece of art together
– Demonstrating his or her new found knowledge like knowing the alphabet, counting to 20. My youngest loves to incorporate her easel into these lesson-like activities
– Feeding baby, checking the food temperature and coaxing her new sibling to try new foods. They can eat together as your child demonstrates how to chew food or hold a spoon.
– Singing songs or telling jokes to cheer baby up
A doll will never truly emulate the dynamic interaction between siblings but pretend play is a way for a younger or only child to experience a role they might normally get to enjoy first hand.
Preparing for a new baby’s arrival.
Older sibling doll play can also help to prepare a child for the arrival of a new baby. Having their own baby can help them understand how small this person will be and the care that will be needed. Before the new baby arrives, you can work to prepare your son or daughter with how the routine may change:
– Certain times of the day quiet play will be required. While the doll naps, your older child can work on a puzzle, reading, colouring or some other quiet activity.
– Evening routines may be disrupted with baby’s needs. Instead of a bedtime story just with mom or dad, your older child can share this moment by helping to read a story to the doll or sing a song.
– Mom and dad may have to meet baby’s needs first. Your older child can mimic mom or dad’s activity with his or her doll (feeding, diapering, bathing), feeling involved in the new routine.
Even when the new baby comes home, these role playing moments can be extended as your child slowly evolves into his or her new role. Multi-culture dolls enable kids to care for a child similar to themselves or to their own multi-cultural family.
Pretend play with dolls can help older children prepare for a new baby’s arrival or give them involvement during the early stages when mom and dad are more hands-on with baby. Doll play can also give younger or an old child the opportunity to experience the nurturing and guiding role of an older sibling.