Triplets and their 2-year old sibling

Posted on February 15, 2014. Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , , |

Question:  What could be some of the possible long run physiological effects for a two year old and the birth of triplets if the older sibling constantly felt left out.   Could that real or perceived lack of attention/love cause real problems?  If so what? A.D.D.?


You have asked important questions and there are several things that can happen to make sure that your 2-year old still has a supportive environment and feels love, affection, caring and not side-lined.  I don’t think at all that ADD would be one of the side effects.  Even with lots of attention, some children experience it.  I think you will find that it is more of genetic make-up rather than situational, although situations can make children feel resentful, angry, vindictive unloved.

Firstly I would make sure that the babies are not called “the triplets.”  Use their full names at all times.  When they are called “the triplets,” not only do the babies
lose out on their individuation, the older sibling soon realizes he is not a part of the “special package.”  As parents, you call the shots so indicate to everyone that names are to be used only and correct as necessary, each and every time.
A challenge is that a 2-year appears so mature and capable next to three, probably premature, infants.  Remind yourselves that a 2-year old is still very young
does not yet understand being careful, what dangerous means, getting dressed, eating properly, etc.  A 2-year still needs a lot of guidance, time, caring and
Don’t use the 2-year old as a constant ‘go-fer.’  Fetch a diaper, get a bottle, hand me this, hand me that.  It is OK to help once in a while because a family is about
the Team, but don’t fall into the trap of using him in a lot of the day to day  caring taking.  They are not his babies, but are the parents’ responsibility and a 2-year
old still needs to be a child.
You might consider having the 2-year old in an activity that belongs to only him:  preschool, art camp, swimming sleepover with Grandparent or such.  Then when he gets home you can discuss what he did, friends he made, songs he sang.  In other words, he is the centre of the universe for a time.
Set aside time each day, just for the 2-year old with one-one-one.  Could be bath time, story time, errands or something else.  If he really needs you and you
aren’t available, give the child a timer and set it for a few minutes and say “when it rings, I will be with you.”  Try to keep your promise.  He needs to be able to
count on you and promises made.  This is an investment in both of your futures.
Sometimes have the babies wait while you finish what you are doing with the 2-year old.  You know the 3 are safe in their cribs and a little crying won’t hurt them,
but the fact that you don’t immediately jump up and run to 1 or more crying babies, sends a message to your 2-year old that what you are doing with him is equally important.  Once again, an investment in future behaviour.
There is no guarantee that there will not be any psychological problems in any of our children, but we can stack some of the cards and play them in a kind, caring,
meaningful way.  If you cannot go when your 2-year wants your attention be honest and explain that you are tied up and will get back to him as soon as you can.
Don’t ignore or snap your child.  This will cause more problems in the long run for the 2-year old than a lot of other things.  Instead of interpreting things as “Daddy does not want to be with me” he understands that Daddy is busy with my brothers and sisters and will be with me shortly.  Little children tend to internalize what is going on around them rather than really understanding that because of the situation, I am not available but can be shortly.
And what is important for the triplets is that they be treated as individuals as much as possible, in spite of their type of births.  Rhyming names, constantly dressed alike and the label of “the triplets” presents them as a package and that is how the world will see them.  They will each have their own likes, dislikes. abilities and capabilities and we, as the parents, need to encourage them to go after their own choices.  Start early such as taking only one on an errand, let Grampa and Gramma rotate as to who will go visit or sleepover.  Starting earlier is much easier on everyone than trying when they are older and have opinions.  Don’t make it an issue.  If it is an issue for you, it will be an issue for them.  It is really good for your 2-year old to witness that all the siblings are treated as individuals, important individuals.
I hope that this has helped you somewhat.  If you have any more questions, please don’t hesitate to get in touch.
Sincerely and best wishes,
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