How to Deal With a Jealous Older Child
by Totspot Team
If you think about it, it’s totally understandable that your eldest become jealous of your shiny new baby. He or she was told that they were getting a sweet new playmate and walked around telling anyone who would listen that “We’re having a baby!” for the last, oh nine or so months.
Then this squirmy red thing comes along. Not only does it not play (yet…but your eldest doesn’t understand this), baby has taken all of mommy and daddy’s attention. He or she asks if it can be returned to the stork, and you are starting to get worried.
While this is a really common and natural reaction for your oldest child, there are things you can do to ease their feelings and help them make peace with their new bouncing bundle of joy…even if they don’t see the baby that way yet.
Teach. Childrenlearn through experimentation most of the time, but just like you can’t let your toddle burn his hand learning that fire is hot, you also can’t let him hit the baby to find out this hurts. Teach your toddler how to handle and touch the baby through example, encouraging him or her by essentially teaching him the meaning of “gentle.” Show him how to hug the baby before he tries to on his own, possibly getting too aggressive.
Watch. As we know, left alone, kids can really hurt themselves or each. Stay close enough to your baby and toddler to monitor behavior, and if things start to get rough, divert your toddlers attention and how him or her a more gentle way to “play” with the baby. If he starts to hit or pinch the baby, step in, and once the baby is settled again, tell him where he went wrong (“Hitting is always very naughty”). Encourage him to put his feelings into words. He may need to be put in time out to settle down.
Don’t Blame the Baby. Telling your toddler you can’t go to the park because the baby has a doctor’s appointment will only affirm to him that this baby is here to ruin his life. Instead of saying “We can’t go because I have to take the baby to the doctor,” try a more subtle approach, such as “Mommy wants to take you to the park, but first we have to have to take care of some other errands.”
Involve. When possible, involve your toddler as best you can in the baby’s life. If you’re getting a toy for both, have your toddler pick out the toy for baby. Ask him to skip in front of the baby’s swing to get your little one to giggle. Let him snap one of the baby’s buttons.
Praise and Support. It’s important to praise your toddler for being a good big brother or sister so as to encourage good behavior, but also to show them that, just like you told them before baby arrived, it’s fun being a big boy or girl! At the same time, sympathize with your toddler, telling him that you understand how he must feel and reinforcing how much you love him.