Why it's important to remember your first born is still a child too

Eldest children need time to be kids too.
Eldest children need time to be kids too. Photo: Getty Images

 Since becoming a big brother almost a year ago, Mr 6 has had to grow up in many ways.

No longer is he the "baby" of the household. No longer does he get all the attention. And no longer is he able to hoard all his belongings to himself and get away with saying "this is mine".

In many ways, the introduction of a sibling has been a good way for him to grow up.

There are many behaviours - such as his inability to share - that have had to be curbed, and there's nothing better than watching him foster a caring and protective nature towards his little brother.

But there are times when I look at him and have to remind myself that he's still only small.

I have to reign myself in with regards to my expectations on him, and I have to stop myself from saying those terrible parenting words "You're older, you should know better".

I often forget that his outbursts, bad days or emotional highs and lows are all age related.

I forget that his tantrums are sometimes just a cry for a bit of time alone with me. And I forget that his sense of mischief and fun isn't him being naughty or immature.

In the midst of focusing on Mr 11 months I often expect him to 'get on with it', sit on the sidelines and entertain himself.

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I'm guilty of giving him short shift when I'm in the throes of witching hour, and I'm certainly guilty of not listening to him when the baby's cries are drowning him out.

Yet, there are minutes, days and sometimes weeks when a burst of love explodes in my heart as I watch him behave in ways that display the little boy he still is.

Sitting on the sofa after a busy day he reaches for his blankie and snuggles it into his face. With his thumb in his mouth and his legs curled up underneath him it's reminiscent of so many years gone by.

Whilst his blankie has progressively got smaller and smaller in size, it still provides the biggest comfort to him of all.

It's the first thing he reaches for in times of distress, sadness or relaxation. And he still can't sleep without it nestled into his side.

But, there's plenty of other times when I reality check myself about just how little he really is.

For example, times when the world comes down on his shoulders. His limited life skills are yet to empower him to cope and so tears and tantrums are his only response.

The frustration that he can't always win at games, the rejection from a friend that may not want to play, and the devastation that accompanies someone not wanting to follow his lead.

But, of course the biggest reminder to me of his age comes during the times he specifically seeks me out for love.

Despite his size he folds himself into my lap. He curls his legs into me and snuggles his head under my chin. His little arms wrap around me and I inhale his little boy smell.

He places a kiss on my cheek and tells me he loves me and it's then that I wish time would suddenly stand still.

It's then that I truly acknowledge that he's still only small. It's then I acknowledge that he still needs me, but in ways that are different than before.

And it's then that I acknowledge one day he really will be big, and that's when I will be wishing that he were still only small.

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