Saying it with a pen – rules for a big brother


Ever since Master 1 arrived, Master 3 has always struggled with the extra person in the household.  He had previously taken up a fair bit of my attention being premature and then a clingy one to say the least.

Master 3 has suffered from health problems, namely eczema and food intolerances and allergies.  But I always ‘unconsciously’ knew Master 3 was also struggling to fit into our family and this might even be affecting his health.

One day, I decided ‘that’s it! we’re doing a drawing’.  Even though we had talked about a lot of this, I knew a drawing would really hold Master 3’s attention and help him to talk about the scenario more than us just talking verbally (and him focussing on what toy he might play with next).

Firstly, I thought about what would really help him to feel truly loved and a part of our family, but also how to get him to understand that he and Master 1 both had roles to play.  It started with ‘Master 3’s story’.  I drew about Mummy and Daddy and how we wished for a baby.  Then how Mummy was pregnant and that Master 1 arrived six weeks early (to make it that bit more personalised/special – his story).  I then drew about how happy Mummy and Daddy were and how many nights Mummy sat with him in the night, when he wanted those extra cuddles (much to my sleep deprivation! yawn…).   Master 3 was already giggling with this story being drawn especially about him.

'his story'

‘his story’

Next, we continued the story about Mummy and Daddy wishing for one more baby for our family.

Big brother roles

And then we got to looking at the special roles Master 3 has as ‘big brother’.  I drew icons or simple words for Master 3 about his roles:

  • Give Master 1 love – kisses, hugs or nice words (this doesn’t always come easily to Master 3)
  • Show Master 1 ‘the right way’ – eg packing away, putting clothes into laundry basket, playing with toys, using his words
  • Be patient – that means ‘wait’ – Master 1 needs to have turns with the ‘important people’ too – (we drew pictures of Mummy, Daddy, other family members etc)
  • Help – protect Master 1 (trampoline, roads, daycare, bath, playground), fix or find things for Master 1 (one of Master 3’s better skills), teach Master 1 new skills (eg. building towers, running, yoga – one of Master 3’s specialities!)

Master 3 was really happy with these and already I could see he was really taking this on.  And the best thing was for me to stop and DRAW it – it really made me think what do we really expect of Master 3?

Now this was all good, but slightly unfair we had a whole lot of expectations for Master 3.. but what about Master 1?

So we started again!

Little brother roles

Little brother roles

Little brother roles

  • Give Master 3 love – hugs, kisses, nice words
  • Be patient – for Master 3 to have turns with the ‘important people’
  • Play nicely with Master 3 – no fighting, take turns (or else Master 3 is allowed to ask Mummy for help to negotiate)
  • Learn from Master 3 – he WILL follow you, watch you and copy you (Master 3 not always happy with this but we made it out to be very special)

Since then, we have always spoken about the special parts to this story:

  • We are all a family together – all of us (eg. ‘Master 1 will come on the holiday with us, all of us together’)
  • Master 3 is an important big brother who helps Master 1 to learn
  • Master 1 has roles too (eg. ‘it’s your turn now, Master 1 has to wait too doesn’t he’)
  • No being rough with each other
  • And also pointed out moments when Master 1 is being funny for Master 3 to develop a bit of love and pride for him

And through this I am developing intrinsic motivation in Master 3 to want to:

  • Give Master 1 love (‘you gave him a hug, that helps him to grow!’)
  • Help and care for Master 1 (‘that was so thoughtful getting his trike out for him!’)
  • See us ALL as a family (‘that’s you with Master 1 when he was born.  He is in our family with us now’)


This entry was posted in Emotional development and tagged , , , , , by heidelightful. Bookmark the permalink.

About heidelightful

Hello friend! I am a paediatric speech pathologist and health coach. My vision is to create a world where parents can understand the real link between diet and their child's health and behaviour, and know how to create true health for their family. My two young, wonderful and sensitive sons both have food intolerances and have also taught me about my own, that I have never known about until now! Topics I have looked into for my own family's health and also from my role as a speech pathologist with children with picky eating are food intolerances, fussy eaters, creating healthy eaters and eating to prevent and ‘cure’ childhood issues such as ADHD, autism, eczema/skin issues, trouble sleeping, low immunity, frequent snot/ear infections and bedwetting, to name a few. I write many posts coming from being an exhausted mum trying to keep up with fussy boys who can only eat certain foods and also as a professional who has worked with other children with similar issues. I live on the Sunshine Coast in Australia with my husband and two boys and was previously an exchange student in Brazil! I hope to inspire you to help your child achieve their potential through health and well-being. Thanks for stopping by :) Heidi

2 thoughts on “Saying it with a pen – rules for a big brother

  1. Drawing the story – nice idea! Ours are better sometimes than others… but I like your lists of roles. I guess what we’ve been trying to reinforce, too, but we hadn’t laid it out like that yet.

  2. Pingback: When in doubt, say it with a pen | I raise my kids

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