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is shared play impossible with four year gap?

(33 Posts)
AnnieSG Thu 02-Jun-05 14:33:58

I'm really tearing my hair out at the moment and feeling really inadequate. I have two boys, two and six and they are such a pain when they are together just with me. I seem to be unable to find activities that will satisfy both of them and they are very competitive for my time. Even just playing in the garden seems to go wrong within five minutes and I end up telling off the bigger boy and comforting the endless wailing of the smaller one. Sorry this is such a moan but I feel really down about it. Just wondered if anyone else felt as crap as me on this issue, or better still, if they have any suggestions???

ScrewballMuppet Thu 02-Jun-05 14:38:04

Sorry no suggestions but am interested as have two boys 3 and 5 and also have the same problem. If I set a game/toys up for one and for the other within moments they are fighting if I organise a game for the two they fight. If I leave them be they fight if its not over what book to read its something. Drives me to distraction.

AnnieSG Thu 02-Jun-05 14:57:38

It's awful, isn't it? I feel worst of all if I ask friends about their kids and they say 'Oh they play really well together.' It makes me feel as though it's something that I'M getting wrong...
I always used to be so judgmental about mums who shout and scream at their kids, but sometimes I feel like i will just combust with stress!

ambrosia Thu 02-Jun-05 15:02:35

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

ScrewballMuppet Thu 02-Jun-05 15:06:22

I've asked friends too and like you have had the reply they get on well together.
My two get on times but they do fight or antagonie each other. Its so frustrating when I all I want to do is something simple like encourage my chiodren to play with jigsaws and other toys and all they want to do is fight or smash their toys.
This may sound terrible but I've given up for a little bit recharging for round 2. I'm going to try seperating them and getting toys out. Maybe one in the kitchen and theother in the living room and alternate between the two and encourage them to be interested in what they are doing and distracting them from what the other is doing. Actually that sounds like a load of balls but its still in the planning stages.
I have two boys what do you have AnnieSG?

wordsmith Thu 02-Jun-05 15:08:33

Hmmm interesting. My DSs are 5 and 1 and the 1 yr old really wants to join in with everything. The 5 year old thinks it's really cute... until the baby breaks something then he flounces.

In my limited experience it's a lot better if they can be OUTSIDE!!!!! Sandpits are good. But I do think the gap's a bit big for meaningful play as equals. On the other hand, can't say I've noticed much sweetness and light emanating from families with a smaller age gap either. My 2 brothers and I are 18 months apart (3 yrs from oldest - me - to youngest)and we founght like cats and dogs when we were kids. Don't think the age really makes a difference in that respect. Siblings just fight, period.

And yes Ambrosia, I think you're lucky - I think perhaps girls are different.

elliott Thu 02-Jun-05 15:12:59

hmmm, if its any help, we don't get much shared play either (ds's are 18 months and 3.5) so I'm not sure its just the age gap. I have to say that there's possibly limited appeal to playing with a 2 year old for a 6 year old?
I find it all works best when they are engaged in separate activities. Would it help at all to perhaps not expect them to play together, but negotiate time with each of them separately? What is it that sparks off a problem? For us it is that ds2 goes and wrecks ds1's games - and I am comign to the realisation that really I shouldn't force ds1 to play with him, so I try to busy ds2 with something else. it does tend to mean that I give less attention to ds1 though.

Enid Thu 02-Jun-05 15:18:08

I have a 5.5 and a 2.5 - they play brilliantly together - but they are girls and therefore seem to enjoy lots of pretend play (dd1 pretends shes a cat, dd2 'feeds' her etc)

I try not to tell dd1 off too much when they get cross with each other - even though you feel they should know better (older) it can breed resentment. I try to give dd2 her fair share of tellings off too. That helps.

AnnieSG Thu 02-Jun-05 15:57:38

Thanks for those thoughts. Mine are boys, Srewballmuppet. Elliott, I think the problem essentially comes down to competitiveness. They both want me to be 100% involved in what they're doing. Actually, the little one is better, but the elder has always always been bad at sole play.
He can't resist winding up the little one, and the little one is in a very tantrummy state right now. So 14 seconds after they're together, he's sobbing and wanting me.
Then sometimes, they're really loving with each other.
I can't help thinking that girls really are different you know. I've always hated those generalisations in the past but I think in this case there's really something in that.

ScrewballMuppet Thu 02-Jun-05 16:47:14

Have to agree with the boys generalisation. I think boys may be more competitive

elliott Thu 02-Jun-05 16:58:49

AnnieSG, I can imagine the problem! I think there may be nothing for it but to try and encourage them to take turns in having your attention for a while. For me its not so bad as ds1 really likes to get absorbed in his own projects, whereas ds2 is more of a people person.

cod Thu 02-Jun-05 17:00:44

Message withdrawn

elliott Thu 02-Jun-05 17:06:00

have they always been like that cod? are they naturally sociable? I worry a bit that ds1 is always goign to want to shut himself away and get on with his own stuff....

Enid Thu 02-Jun-05 17:06:51

what about the 2 and 6 year old? do they play together?

colette Thu 02-Jun-05 17:23:24

I have the same problem with dd and ds and there is a 4.5 yr gap. DD has lots of board games sitting on a top shelf and I feel guilty we never get round to playing them. She is 6.5 and he is nearly 2 and very stroppy .
I am watching this thread for suggestions , I have found recently ball games keep them both amused for a while if I play as well.
I just wish they would play together without all the sqabbling.

Enid Thu 02-Jun-05 17:24:20

this has put me right off having a third

cod Thu 02-Jun-05 17:42:14

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cod Thu 02-Jun-05 17:43:00

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cod Thu 02-Jun-05 17:44:40

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Miranda5 Thu 02-Jun-05 17:46:46

The phase where the young one ruind everything does pass but I would say - although not perfect my two boys will play something imaginative like lego for hours but now they are 8 and 12. Both would rather play with daughter in middle though ( 10)

Miranda5 Thu 02-Jun-05 17:46:47

The phase where the young one ruind everything does pass but I would say - although not perfect my two boys will play something imaginative like lego for hours but now they are 8 and 12. Both would rather play with daughter in middle though ( 10)

Gwenick Thu 02-Jun-05 17:48:55

****************Whispers quietly to as not to get people attacking her in jealousy**********

There's 3yrs 3 months between ny 2 boys, they're 18 montsh and 4 3/4yrs. 95% of the time they do actually play really nicely together..........

However, in the 5% when they're NOT getting along I definitely know it

frogs Thu 02-Jun-05 17:50:59

I'm with cod on this, my three play together very sweetly (ages 10, nearly 6 and 18 months). They do get quite silly sometimes, though.

ds (5) will put up with being bossed about by big sister because he gets to run with the big kids. dd1 (10) will (mostly) put up with the 5yo's irritating little ways because she gets a small slave to boss about. Both the older ones adore the baby because she's such an appreciative audience for their antics.

They do bicker sometimes, but it's largely harmless.

tamum Thu 02-Jun-05 18:09:42

I have a 3.5 year gap between mine, and it's an older boy and younger girl which I thought would be the kiss of death in terms of playing. They get on brilliantly though and play enormously long imaginative games with each other. I think it's a) the luck of the draw with personalities and b) easier as they get older (sorry Jimjams). I hope things improve

frogs Thu 02-Jun-05 18:28:55

Also it helps if you can encourage the older child to regard the younger one as an entertaining, but sometimes slightly troublesome little pet.

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