Every child reacts differently to a new baby and the green eyed monster can often put in an appearance. But there are ways you can help your toddler accept his sibling and still feel special
Struggling to help your toddler accept his baby sister? You’re not alone. It’s extremely common for a child to become jealous when there’s a new addition to the family – especially when that new addition is a baby that takes up all of her parents' time. Not to mention all of the presents she gets from friends and relatives.
And there’s lots of ways that this jealousy can show itself. ‘Just like there’s no such thing as a ‘normal child’, there’s no ‘normal behaviour’,’ says child psychologist Dr Amanda Gummer. ‘It’s common for children to become clingier to the mother, but also reject the mother and transfer affections to another role model.’
It’s extremely common for a child to become jealous when there’s a new addition to the family
Some toddlers enjoy playing the role of big brother and suddenly seem to grow up, but others find it hard to understand why they have to share their parents. ‘Some children regress and want babying a bit more, especially if they think that it will get them more attention,’ explains Dr Gummer.
So, how do you cope with your toddler’s jealous behaviour on top of your new baby duties? Read on…
Be aware of your toddler’s behaviour
As all-consuming as a newborn is, it’s important that you keep an eye on your toddler at all times. His actions will show how he feels as at this age he’ll find it hard to communicate through words.
‘Taking your baby’s dummy or toys is common as is crying about things that he’d not normally have bothered about,’ says Dr Gummer. ‘In fact, attention seeking behaviour in general is quite common.’
Involve your toddler
Try to include your toddler in as much of your activities with your baby as possible.
‘Talking to your toddler and involving him in your decisions will be a big help,’ says Dr Gummer. ‘Ask questions like “Do you think baby would like to wear the blue or the red top today?”.’
While feeding your baby, you can read to your toddler and get him to hold the book and turn the pages so he feels involved or sing songs together to the baby.
Set aside special time with your toddler
As essential as it is to include your little one, you also need that all-important one-on-one time with him – just like you used to have constantly before your baby arrived.
‘Often, it’s best to plan this for when the baby is asleep or when there is someone else to look after the baby whilst you have quality time with your toddler,’ Dr Gummer explains.
Play a few board games, spend a few hours at the park or do some baking – aim for activities that will encourage you both to communicate constantly and really make the most of your time together.
Have plenty of family time
As the end goal is to help your toddler feel happy with his new sister, make sure that he spends as much time with her as possible.
‘It’s best to try and promote bonding as a family to help the children develop their own relationship,’ says Dr Gummer.
‘While you can tell your toddler how much your baby loves him and how much your baby watches him, it’s better to have family cuddles and show both children that you’re able to give them both the love and attention they need,’ she continues.
This will lessen your tot’s competitiveness and resentment towards your baby and help the two of them bond.
How did you help your toddler overcome his new baby jealousy? Let us know below.