Before I met my husband and we had our daughter, it was just my son and me. He was the only baby. He didn’t have to share me with anyone, share his toys, his grandparents, nothing. My only concern was him and only him, so he became a big mama’s boy, and to this day he is glued to my hip. I knew it would be a little tough bringing another child into the world.
When our daughter first came home from the hospital our son was so excited. He was eager to have a playmate, a best friend, a little sister. He was doing a great job with adding a new addition to the family and having to share mommy. Until he started to realize that she was here for good, and that he wasn’t mommy’s only baby anymore.
“Why can’t we give her back”
“Do I seriously need to share my mom now”
“I thought I was your only baby”
Even for me the change was tough, I couldn’t imagine how it was for him. I got it, I understood. I knew it had to be tough so a big concern for me was figuring out how to make him never feel any less important than his little sister. I wanted him to know that they were both my babies.
From the day she was born and still to this day he is the most loving and caring big brother to his little sister, but he has his jealous moments, as I’m sure all older siblings do. He tries to act like a baby towards me thinking it will get my attention more, which I time and time again inform him that he is the big brother, he shouldn’t act like that and he needs to show his sissy how much of a big boy he is. There are times where he is a little too rough with her, and I need to inform him that hitting her isn’t the right thing to do.
After experiencing this as a mother of two, I wanted to share some pointers that I have been working on to help refrain my son from getting jealous towards his little sister.
Give them their alone time with you. This is one I try to do weekly. Children enjoy one on one time with their parents. I try to do some activities with son by himself. We’ll go to the playground or make a craft together. We’ll try to do something that our daughter isn’t old enough to do yet, so I can show him that being a big brother can be fun because he can do some things that only big kids can do.
Teach them. Children learn through experimenting. You certainly don’t want them to experiment by hitting the baby and realizing that they are hurting them so encourage them to be gentle with the baby. Teach them to hug the baby softly, gently hold their fingers, or rub their feet. Let them know that a baby is fragile, and they aren’t as strong as them yet. Also let them know, that sharing is a good thing and just like they should share their toys they also should share mommy and daddy.
Never blame the baby. You don’t want your older child to think they can’t do something because their little brother or sister ruined it. You don’t want to tell them they couldn’t go to park because their sibling has a doctor’s appointment. Explain to them that you must run some errands first before going to play. You never want your older child to look at the younger one as a ‘burden’.
Involve them. Always try to involve the older sibling while taking care of the younger one. If you are about to feed them a bottle, have them help you hold it up. If it’s bath time, have the older sibling pick out the bath toy for them and help you wash them. If the baby is fussy, see if they can help get them to laugh. Having them do things together can help their bond grow stronger.
Give them praise. Support them. Let them know they are doing a great job at being a big brother or sister. Tell them they are doing a wonderful job when they help you out with the baby, and that you can see them becoming the best of friends. Reassure them that it’s fun being a big boy or girl, but also express how much you love them and that you understand it’s a big change in their life.
Don’t try to “fix” their negative emotions. Instead of insisting that their emotions aren’t real, try to understand how they feel. Show sympathy, but attempt to turn it into a positive outlook. Let them know that you understand how they feel but their little brother or sister loves them very much and needs them to help them grow up to be big like them. Also be sure to let them know that their help is really helpful to Mommy and Daddy and that you are very proud of them. You never want them to feel like they are wrong for feeling the way they do.
Never Compare. You don’t want your older sibling to think that you love the younger sibling more. So comments such as “you should be sleeping like your sister” or “see how they are being good” shouldn’t be said to big brother or sister. I’ve tried to refrain from those kind of remarks all together, even as they both get older.
These few tips have helped my son really enjoy his role as the big brother. Him and his little sister have built such a strong bond since the first day we brought her home. He still has his moments of jealousy, but just those few simple pointers has helped him tremendously along the way.
I hope they can provide some help for you other mama’s out there too!