Dear Savvy Auntie,

I have a two year old nephew and he's really sweet. I would really like to have a strong relationship with him, but the trouble is that I don't really see him that often.

I am a bit worried that when he grows older, he might like hanging out with me but won't necessarily respect me; I am 19 years old and, not counting my nephew, the youngest in the family. Any advice on how to be both someone he can have fun with and also someone he listens to?

I want to be a great aunt to him, but have zero experience with kids, so.. I'm a bit afraid of being bad at it. Thank you in advance for any advice!

P.S.: I live in Europe and have no driving license, so I can't drive him anywhere.

Young Auntie

Dear Young Auntie,

You may be “short” on years, but, you are “long” on auntie wisdom.

Keep in mind that respect is earned over time and two year olds are occupied on growing a "me" and no that open to discipline.

I strongly suggest you read some books on development. I particularly like The First Three Years by T. Berry Brazelton. I also love Diary of a Baby by Daniel Stern. The latter book doesn’t focus only on two year olds, but provides a brief poetic peek inside babies and tots with an uncanny intuition as well as explanations for parents (or aunts). It is very short and a true gem. My book, The Sense Connection, Discovering How Your Five Senses Determine Your Effectiveness as a Person, Partner, and Parent is very effective in forming bonds. Although I disapprove of self promotion, I think my book would be very helpful to you.

So, what to do to further you goals?

1) Set up a schedule i.e: Saturdays are auntie days... Skype, Facetime, or telephone weekly. He is young for this and the connection might be very short, but he will start to build his trust in your continuity. You could sing or read a short book until he is old enough to converse.

2) Send cards for all occasions.

3) Keep the discipline and limit setting very limited until he is almost four years old.

4) Complement him on being good at...listening, drawing, building, dancing etc.

and finally, remember that respect is not a function of age but of building trust.
Best of luck,
Natalie Robinson Garfield

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