Is there an ideal age gap?

Is there an ideal age gap?
Most experts agree that there’s no ideal age gap between siblings. It’s rather the children’s temperaments, the family history and the child’s position in the birth order (eldest, younger sibling or baby) that affect their sibling dynamic.

Most experts agree that there’s no ideal age gap between siblings. It’s rather the children’s temperaments, the family history and the child’s position in the birth order (eldest, younger sibling or baby) that affect their sibling dynamic.

That said, the age difference between 2 children influences their behaviour nonetheless. The closer in age siblings are, the more risk there is that they will squabble and feel a certain amount of rivalry. On the other hand, if the age difference is more pronounced, they will share fewer common childhood experiences. So what’s the middle ground? Some people consider that a gap of 2 to 3 years fosters closeness. Others believe that 3 to 5 years between each child lets each one enjoy a parent’s uncontested attention for a longer period. In fact, there are pros and cons associated with each age difference. The right one is the one parents choose when they decide to have another child.

In 2011, 47% of Quebec households with children had only one child; 38%, two children; and 15% had three or more.

The question remains: who benefits the most from their position in the birth order? Is it the eldest, because she was an only child for a while? Or the baby, who’s protected and more readily forgiven? Studies and specialists contradict each other on the matter. For Nadia Gagnier, neither rank is necessarily best, since each has its own dynamic. She does recognize, however, that the second-born may have a harder time asserting herself, especially if her parents choose to have a third child. She then finds herself sandwiched between the eldest “who’s allowed to do everything,” and the baby, who’s overprotected and well aware of her status as a pampered little darling.

Only girls or only boys?
Some specialists claim that a girl will have a harder time accepting the arrival of another female “rival” for her father’s affection, while two boys will compete more for their mother’s love.
In a study published in 2011, researcher Jennifer Jenkins, a professor in the Department of Psychology at the University of Toronto, says that the relationship between 2 sisters is the most fraught. Brother/sister relationships are the most harmonious, and brother/brother relationships fall somewhere in the middle.
For Dr. Maziade, it’s impossible to say whether having only boys or only girls is easier. He notes that gender isn’t the only factor at play in sibling relationships. There’s also the age difference, the way the parents treat each child, their temperaments, and so on. “If children feel that their parents are happy together, they will have a tendency to feel that way, too, regardless of gender,” concludes Michèle Lambin.
Remember
  • Each child is unique and must be cared for according to her needs, age and level of development.
  • Several factors influence sibling rivalry, including temperament, gender, birth order and age difference.
  • Getting involved in conflicts between children is recommended only when the safety of one of the children is threatened.
  • It’s important to spend some one-on-one time with each of your children every day.