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Jealousy is nowhere more evident than in the first born who suddenly finds a new baby in the home drawing all the attention of the parents. My mother-in-law once shared with me how her then 4 year old son snatched the pillow from his few months old brother demanding that it is his property and should not be given to anyone else. She also told how the elder one would run off with the feeding bottle of his brother to draw her attention. First born jealousy is nothing uncommon, but you may at times feel clueless as to how to manage the situation and prepare the elder one for the change.
Sibling rivalry can be very frustrating for parents. Psychologists are of the opinion that the first baby may often feel the sense dethronement from their position of getting parental favor and attention after another infant is born. The most common symptom of jealousy is lots of demand for parental attention. Some other symptoms may include thumb sucking, yelling or aggressive behavior while handling the newborn. So, what should parents do to help their older one feel secure and not so jealous of the second child? Luckily, there are positive ways to handle the situation instead of pressurizing her to accept the situation.
Prepare your child for a sibling: Prepare your elder one for the new relationship by announcing that a baby brother or sister will come within few months. Although your child may be too young to understand that, preparation can surely help to cope up with the sudden change.
Sense of bonding: Make your first child feel that the second child will be his or her little brother or sister. Make them feel responsible and proud instead of feeling jealous about the attention that the little one will get. Tell them how the little baby would grow up to be a constant playmate and encourage to bond with the newborn.
Involvement: Involving your first born to do little things for the newborn will help in developing a feeling of responsibility. Make her do things like set up the crib; choose the dress for the baby when going out. Make your elder one feel that she will continue to be an important part of your life even after the second baby is born. Make them understand that every member of the family is special and has their own great contributions.
Take out some time: Set some time only for your older one. Sit with her and help her to complete the activities or homework. Devote some time to play like you used to do earlier so that she does not feel the change after the arrival of the new baby. Don’t put an abrupt end to the time that you share together, instead put some efforts to spend some quality time with her.
Be supportive and help to make adjustments: There will definitely be some changes in the older one’s life, but do not expect that she will be able to adjust soon. Be supportive and help your first born to slowly get adjusted to the new changes. Some parents hurry up with the adjustments making the child feel stressed out. Some extra love and support will reduce the insecurity in them.
Praise and make a positive comment: Whenever your elder kid touches the baby gently, praise her for that. A positive remark can make her feel special in your eyes and encourage in bonding with the new baby.
Help to heal: Your first child has lost the status of being the only chil
d. Your attention and time is now divided. Remember that she is in pain, but cannot express in words what she is unhappy about. Help her to heal slowly and when she is cranky or acts like needy, empathize and hold her close to you and make her feel safe and wanted.
If you are a parent of more than one child, then first born jealousy may be something that you have faced. Offering support, care and some extra love can help your elder one to easily adjust to the changes without developing a negative feeling for the newborn.