John reads a book to his little brother Daniel before nap time.

Older Siblings Investing into Younger Siblings

Another goal you should give serious thought to is the interaction among your children. Think through planned times and strategic ways in which they will interact. You can accomplish both sibling interaction and spiritual goals. Here are some ideas.

You can begin, even at a young age, for the older sibling to take an active interest in tending to, engaging in activities with, mentoring, and enjoying time spent with younger siblings.

Warning Signs that the Culture Within Our Home Needs to Change

Do your older siblings run from, try to exclude, close the door on, are easily irritated by, yell at, degrade, make fun of, tell them to “go away” and “leave me alone”? Do you hear, “Mah-aahhhm, He’s messing with my things?” Are they “too cool” to engage in activities with their younger siblings?

Or do they include the younger ones, actively participate in helping them, come alongside to teach them, get on their level and engage in playing toys with them, snuggle with them while watching a movie or reading – not minding that their legs or bodies are in their personal space, not being bothered by watching a “kiddie” movie when they’re 15?

If the former is your situation right now, there’s work to be done.

No child should feel like their sibling is a bother. Even though in our family there were some clear stages where we weren’t pleased with certain behaviors, the older ones were taught to lovingly say, “we’re still working with her on that.”


Here are some ideas for being intentional to promote the culture in your home in which the older siblings are actively engaged in investing into lives of the younger siblings.

Plan times during the day that they are interdependent, (not alone or “peer dependent.”)

  • family devotion- snuggle on the couch together. Older helps younger with following along.
  • bedtime – older snuggles up and reads a book to younger, says prayers with him,
  • nap time – reading books, singing songs, cuddling, rocking
  • throughout the day – notice what the younger is playing with/interested in and stop their activity to engage with younger: get on their level. Legos, reading 20 books on dinosaurs and naming all of them over and over again,
  • throughout the day – teaching them/ challenging their memory- while reading books, naming items in it; while doing a USA map puzzle – play memory game of states;  times tables, scripture memory,
  • relaxing in the evening – set up a lego station. puzzle table, coloring area where they work together there (If your older would roll eyes at such things and rather play video games alone or be in his own world, talk with him respectfully, privately and share the importance of his involvement in his younger siblings lives and the culture you are creating in your home and how significant his role is. Don’t let him hibernate. Self vs Others)

Intentional Engagement.

There were many years in our home where we had specific times (not necessarily an exact time) where Child A would play for 15 minutes with Child C while I worked with Child B on schooling or helping me with dinner or clean up or whatever. The arrangement of Child A and C was intentional to build sibling relationships. Perhaps I felt the age gap was extreme or the relationship wasn’t its finest at that particular point, or it was just part of the rotation of making sure all hearts were aligned with all siblings. I was intentional to make sure all engaged well with each other.

We made a list of activities they could do together.  Because this is about the older being interested in the younger, he would typically ask what they younger would like to do. The main objectives we wanted included communicating and interacting together on a common activity. This rules out such things as video games, cell phones, watching TV or a movie, reading alone, and doing a puzzle by oneself.

Daniel and Alexis acting out David and Goliath

Daniel and Alexis acting out David and Goliath

Here’s a sample list:

  • creative -art, coloring books, creating things
  • music – playing instruments, teaching an instrument, singing, sing alongs
  • drawing – Draw Write Now is one of my favorite series. They show step by step how to draw.
  • drama – making props, costumes, making up skits, acting out verses, Bible stories, turning a book into a skit
  • learning activities- spelling game together on the computer, puzzles
  • critical thinking – puzzles, Pentominos, Risk
  • pen and paper games – tic tac toe, stick man, connect the dot
  • building – puzzles, legos, blocks, those large cardboard bricks, K-nex
  • outdoor/energy (LOL) activities- basketball, throwing the ball, frisbee, riding bikes, skateboarding
  • games- Old Maid, Go Fish, Operation, board games, (games also let me see if work is needed for anyone on being a good loser or good winner, attitudes, etc)
  • Snuggle up and read together. Some of my favorite memories are my kids laying all over each other reading.



One of our very favorite ways the older kids would do art with the younger.

One of our very favorite ways the older kids would do art with the younger.

Perhaps the pink gorilla is also one of mine.

Perhaps the pink gorilla is also one of mine.

Tomorrow I’m sharing a little more on this topic.

What are fun things your older siblings do with the younger? Leave a comment.

If you’ve missed any of my posts in the series on being intentional about setting priorities in your home this year, here they are:

Hey, go on over to  my Facebook page and ask a parenting question. I’ll answer one on here next week on our first ever “Titus Two Tuesday.” (Thanks for that idea from my friend and fellow blogger Lisa Appelo.)


Rhonda droppedoffmysonandhiswonderfulgirlfriendtocollege.boohoo. ellis

  1. Laura

    Great ideas.. I like the idea of purposely pairing siblings too based on their current needs or difficulties. Thanks for the book suggestions too! The amazon links are super convenient! Already ordered a few 😉

  2. Miriam Anderson

    James has been helping Levi with cutting, pasting, and tracing while I work with Micah in school. Big help! Christian helps younger ones build Lego creations, and Kammi often lets Micah in on dish washing. So sweet seeing them at the sink together!

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