What to do when your child gets jealous of the new baby!
It is tough for children when a new baby arrives. Here are some things you can do when your child gets jealous of the new baby.
What if you walk into the office one day and your boss cheerily declares, “We’re getting another person to do your job!”? That’s got to hurt. Then, what if your boss assures you, “This is not a replacement. You’ll be best friends forever! Now learn to share.” Double ouch.
In many ways, that is what it’s like for children when a new baby arrives. Adults know that the nature of families is to grow instead of to prune. But for children, it can be hard to understand that this smaller person who tends to elicit a lot of awww’s and hogs all the attention isn’t here to phase them out.
As parents, there are some things we can do to help ease some of the jealousy that older kids can feel towards the new baby. Here are some common complaints from older children and what we can do to address them.
Children are creatures of habit. When a new baby arrives, routines can be disrupted. For example, an older sibling might be asked to keep away loud toys when they were perfectly fine before. If the rules or expectations change, it can feel like their world is turned upside down.
Try: Let your older child “overhear” a conversation with the new baby. You can tell the new baby that being part of a family means being considerate towards everyone, including older siblings. Tell the baby to understand that you must also care for other siblings because they are important to you too. The newborn will probably sleep through the conversation, but it would mean the world to the older sibling to know that he or she is not the only one doing the adjusting.
Kids don’t really notice that their needs were met. They care more about how responsive you were to their requests. It’s easy to ask an older child to wait until after you’ve changed a poopy diaper because chances are, their needs aren’t as immediate as a newborn’s. It’s practical, but it can leave an older child feeling set aside and neglected.
Try: Set aside one-on-one time with the older sibling. It can be as simple as going for a few hours to see a movie together. The important thing is to make sure that the child knows that they get to spend uninterrupted time with the parents. Whether this means turning off your phone or declaring it a personal holiday, the goal is to emphasize to the child that he or she has your undivided attention.
It is tough to share. It’s especially hard on older siblings who need to deal with suddenly having to share the parents’ attention. It can feel like to salt to wounds when they are also expected to share other things that are important to them. While sharing is an important to lesson to learn, it can lead to jealousy can arise if the older sibling feels like it is mandatory.
Try: Make it easier on the older sibling by acknowledging their sense of ownership over an item to be handed down. Ask the older child if they are willing to part with old clothes or toys so that the new baby can use them. In this regard, it is important to also respect their decision if they say no. Giving them power over the situation makes them feel like they are actually sharing, instead of having things taken away from them.
This can sometimes feel like a trick question. The honest answer – “I love everyone the same” – can sometimes feel like a cop out to a jealous child.
Try: Instead of focusing on the sameness of the love, dwell on what makes your love for the older child special. Parents can explain to their children that though the siblings are are loved equally, each child has their own personalities and traits, which make them endearing.
Putting this here twice because of how common it is.
Try: Let the older sibling take the lead when it comes to taking care of the baby. It can be as simple as asking, “why do you think the baby is crying?” or letting them choose what the baby will wear. When you allow them to participate, it gives them an opportunity to develop a bond with their new sibling. It’s hard to feel jealous of a relationship when you are a part of it.
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