When Gavin plays with Gareth, he is often very rough. This isn’t because he’s trying to be cruel or intentionally trying to hurt his brother. He’s just a child who doesn’t know his own strength. Since Gareth is still a baby, he can get hurt by his brother’s well-intended gestures of affection so we are constantly reminding Gavin to be gentle with his brother.
As Gareth grows older, I have noticed that sometimes Gareth likes it when Gavin plays rough with him. He laughs a lot and appears to be thoroughly enjoying himself. Sometimes, Gavin goes too far and accidentally hurts Gareth. Sometimes, Gareth isn’t in the mood to play and doesn’t like it. So recently I’ve been trying to teach Gavin to be mindful of his brother’s feelings.
I often tell Gavin, “It’s okay to play but if someone doesn’t like it, we stop.”
To demonstrate the message, I play a tickle game with Gavin. When Gavin says, “More! More!” I’ll tickle him more. The moment Gavin says, “Stop!” I stop tickling him. We’ve been playing this game quite a bit so that Gavin learns that even though we’re having fun now, we still have to be aware that when the other person decides enough is enough, it is time to stop. We also play the game in reverse. We’ll wrestle for a bit and then I’ll say, “Stop!” Gavin then has to stop.
The game is intended to teach him two things. The first is that his wishes are respected. The second is for him to respect the wishes of others.
Now he’s starting to notice when Gareth’s squeals of laughter turn into squeals of protest. Although I still have to step in from time to time to break up the “fun”, I’ve noticed that Gavin will parrot back to me, “When someone doesn’t like it, we stop.”