Raising North Dakota: Bridging the Age Gap

How do you entertain a one year old and a 16 year old, and keep everybody happy?
Well there’s no cookie cutter answer, but there is hope when it comes to bridging the age gap between toddlers and teens.
Here’s this week’s Raising North Dakota.
Keeping your kids happy and entertained can be a challenge, but it can be especially exasperating when there’s a big gap in in age between your kids.
Parent Resource Coordinator Liz Larson has seen more age gaps between siblings in recent years.
“I think that’s getting to be more and more common,” said Liz Larson, Parent Resource Coordinator. “I see families of all kinds of make ups. There are times where you end up with a 1 year old and 16 year old in the same house.”
So how do you go about entertaining your teens and toddlers?
“There maybe isn’t one answer, but recognizing that it is an opportunity for all the kids to learn that idea of we do some things we really enjoy, and then there’s other times as a family we do that someone else is enjoying more,” Larson said.
And mom Diane Huck says that when you have a young toddler like 1 year old Jenna with several much older siblings, it’s sometimes easier to find something enjoyable for the entire family…
“As long as we find something for the big kids, she doesn’t care,” said mom, Diane Huck. “So she just gets taken along to whatever we go to.”
There are a number of perks that come along with age gaps between your children, including your kids being kids a little longer.
“When they hit those teen years think they are pretty much an adult, and part of it is the parents showing that it is fun to do those younger kid activities too,” said Larson. “Everyone can enjoy candyland.”
Huck says, “Just them being able to have the memories that maybe they don’t have of having younger siblings earlier. Her doing something silly makes us laught a little bit more than we had been because life got busy and was stressfull, so we’ve had to chill out because she is pretty chill.”
While younger siblings help to keep the teens young at heart, it can also help them to learn responsibility, but there’s a fine line when it comes to letting them “adult.”
“Remembering everyone has a roll in the family and they are all still kids,” Larson said.
So how do we find the perfect family balance, keeping everyone content and happy?
“Just picking and choosing and fighting the battles worth fighting and letting go of the other stuff. So it balances out,” said Huck.
“Work with your family to make it work and don’t feel like you have to have everyone together all the time, it’s not always going to be a big happy family experience,” said Larson.
Larson says meal time is a prime time to get the family involved, hear about eachother’s days and learn from one another.

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