Tuesday, September 13, 2016

The healing powers of baby brother therapy

"Fireman Max, can you show Ben how to do 'How big is Benjamin? SO big!'" I say, stretching my arms upward.

For weeks now, we've been trying to get Ben to do this, the baby equivalent of teaching a dog to give you his paw. Ben could care less. But, bonus, we've been getting Max to do it. He is lifting his arms upward and raising them high, a movement that does not come easily to him.

Baby Ben has come in handy for all sorts of occupational, physical and speech therapy.

"Fireman Max, tell Ben how to say 'Mommy!'" I say.

"Fireman Max, tell Ben how to say 'Daddy!'"

"Fireman Max, can you show Ben how to press the buttons on that toy?"

"Fireman Max, can you pick up Ben's car and give it to him?"

"Fireman Max, can you pick up Ben's spoon?"

"Fireman Max, can you bring me Ben's bottle?"

"Fireman Max, can you roll the ball to Ben?"

"Fireman Max, show Ben how to do 'Open, shut them!'"

And Fireman Max happily does all of this (as long as I don't forget to call him Fireman Max).

Therapists always tell you to naturally work therapy into your child's daily activities. I have tried mightily over the years. When Max was a baby, we'd bicycle his legs whenever we changed his diaper to help loosen them up. When he was a toddler, we'd get him to dump laundry into a basket and fold it (sadly for both of us, that habit never took). As he's gotten older, Max has done everything from setting the table for meals to retrieving my phone whenever I misplace it in the house, which is pretty often.

Lately, though, we haven't been trying as hard to get Max to do stuff. It's partly because we are content with who he is (this is good) and partly because we have gotten complacent (this is not so good). I keep meaning to ask his therapists to give me more ideas for how to work therapy into his days but I keep procrastinating since I have about as much on my plate as I can handle right now.

Then came Ben. And BenTherapy (trademark pending!) has been just the thing. Max is so eager to help and teach him. He savors the role of being the older and wiser brother. "No, Benjamin, no!" he'll say with a smile after Ben tosses a toy off his highchair tray yet again and Max hands it back to him. And, I think, Max is psyched to show off his capabilities.

BenTherapy does me good, too. I watch Max doing stuff he couldn't do as a tot—picking up objects, grasping a ball with both hands, isolating his pointer finger, pressing buttons, bending down, saying words, raising his arms over his head—and it is healing.


  1. BenTherapy is simply Fireman Max being an incredible big brother!

    1. Exactly! Hope school is treating you well, Kathryn.

    2. Thank you. It is!

  2. And the good part? It doesn't even feel like therapy!

  3. In our house we call it baby therapy but not only does it work for my youngest the "Auntie" but this unexpected Grandbaby has helped me heal!

  4. I think that kids (and adults) respond much better to real situations than simulations. When something honestly NEEDS to be done, people come through. And when there are wonderful natural rewards (like your baby brother smiling at you), that is soooo much more rewarding than, say, a sticker.

    1. It also helps that babies are morphologically designed so that we will meet their needs.

  5. The boys will be great friends in the future


Thanks for sharing!

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