Parenting: Keeping Up With Big Brother

Thursday, May 12, 2011

This past Mother's Day weekend, my husband taught our daughter, Emma how to ride her bicycle without training wheels. It took her just a few hours, and one skinned knee, to master her bike riding.

Her timing was impeccable: Grandma, Nana, Aunt Leslie and Uncle Mark were all on hand to witness the milestone. Our entire extending family was thrilled and, admittedly more than just a little surprised, since Emma is only 3-1/2 years old! We thought Luke was an early cyclist when he started biking right after this 5th birthday.

Luke and Emma are only 20 months apart, but Emma doesn't seem to acknowledge the age difference when it comes to abilities. So, since Emma was a baby, she has been trying to do everything her big brother can do. Two summers ago, when Luke was three, he started swimming on his own. Emma wasn't even two at the time but, after seeing how Luke wasn't wearing a bubble, she didn't want to wear hers anymore. She didn't want to be considered a "baby." So, we took her bubble off, and were prepared to rescue her from drowning. Instead, Emma learned to swim at 22 months of age.

In "The Important Role of Siblings", Michele Blandino explains that siblings often serve as a child's first teachers. Some experts suggest the learning process begins as early as 15 - 18 months, which is the time the younger child's motor skills allow them to imitate the physical accomplishments of an older sibling. "Because of their desire to keep up with their older brother or sister, later born children may reach certain developmental milestones sooner than their older siblings. And chances are that this trend will continue as the children age and the pattern of emulation grows to include social as well as physical pursuits. For example, the younger child watching their older sibling learn how to play a musical instrument may begin their own study at an earlier age," says Blandino.

As parents, we are doing our best to limit sibling rivalry. When Emma lost the training wheels, we were sure to praise Luke for being such a great "teacher." Sure, he didn't consciously try to teach Emma how to bike, but she watched him for months and learned from him (at least that's what we are telling Luke). But this past weekend, Luke held on to his share of the spotlight by showing off his biking skills. Sure, Emma can bike without training wheels, but Luke can do it with no hands!

I'm sure this is just the beginning. There are signs the competition is heating up. Now, Emma is trying to learn to read, so she can be like her big brother!

Happy parenting! Cecily

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