A simple gesture has been making a world of difference for one mom raising a "wild" 5-year-old who's been struggling since his sister was born.

By Maressa Brown
November 27, 2020
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Credit: Jordan Whitt/Unsplash

Every parent-child relationship has its highs and lows. And the period after which a baby sibling arrives can be particularly challenging for an eldest child. That appeared to be the case for a mom on Reddit, writing under the handle adrn916. But the original poster (OP) shared that she had figured out the "simplest thing" that's helping her 5-year-old cope with the fact that he now has to share the spotlight with his 2-year-old sister.

The OP titled her post in the Parenting subreddit, "Simplest thing saved my relationship with my difficult wild 5-year-old," noting that she would refer to her son as John. "He has always been a mommy’s boy, but the last year has been hard on us," shared the Redditor. "He is a great kid, but pretty hardheaded and loves attention. His sister is 2. I think he is having a hard time not being the center of attention."

She went on to explain that one day she told him that she had a secret for just them. "When I pinch my earlobe, it means, 'I love you, John!'" shared the OP. "He pinches his back at me with the happiest grin. It’s been going on for six months or so. And it has completely changed our relationship. Sounds silly, but thought I’d share."

Fellow parents on the forum applauded the OP's simple but effective tip and shared their own strategies.

"My 6 y.o. and I have a similar secret. If I hold his hand and squeeze it three times, it means 'I love you.' If he squeezes four times back, it’s 'I love you too,'" wrote keeksmarie0987.

Another commenter named PetiteTrumpetButt wrote, "My daughter has something special just for us. I have a mole on my collarbone that ever since her little hand could reach it when she was nursing, she'd hold it. As a baby when another woman held her, she'd try to find the mole, look at their chest puzzled, and then look around the room for me. She also had to touch it while nursing and falling asleep, basically any time I was holding her. Now she's 3, and she does it less, but sometimes she'll say, 'mole' and touch it for a second and then go to sleep."

And stripedbathmat shared, "When I was putting my 2.5 y.o. son to bed one night recently, I said (as always), 'Do you know I love you?' And he replied with, 'Ya! My love you too, Mommy. My love you ALL DAY!' I think my heart exploded into millions of tiny pieces and then all grew into full-sized hearts that day. The next night I told him I loved him 'all day,' because I wanted to make it a nightly thing and he concurred and then tacked on, 'I love you ALL your days, Mommy.' I don’t think I had ever felt so happy in my life. Now each night we whisper, 'I love you all day. I love you all your days' to each other."

A Redditor named ouelletouellet gave the OP props, writing, "Awww, that’s so cute. You're amazing. Trust me. Sometimes all a child needs is reassurance that their parents still love them. I mean it’s pretty hard for them to transition into new routines, so the fact you took the time to assure him that everything would be OK just makes my heart melt."

Looks like the OP's tip is serving as a helpful reminder to parents everywhere that when it comes to sibling rivalry, quite often, the simplest loving gesture can mean everything to a child.

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