Parents Corner - Ask Lahoma
Newborn Children and Sibling Jealousy
So you’re an expecting mom of a 4 year old child, and you’ve heard horror stories about sibling jealousy. You’re hoping and praying that your child will not be one of them. So you’re taking precautionary steps such as giving the child more attention, spending more quality time with them, “babying” them more than you’ve done in quite some time; hoping this 4 year old will be more understanding and grateful when suddenly all of your attention will be shifted to the new child. Well my dear expecting mom, you are doing the opposite of what you should be doing. You are creating a jealous little “monster”, affectionately speaking. The current child will resent the “sudden” shift and may even despise the innocent newborn for getting most of the attention now.
What you should be doing to prepare the current child for the expected one, is spending LESS time “babying” them. And although I would never recommend spending less quality time with any child, you can spend less “quantity” with them. In other words, encourage the current child to become more independent. Allow them to spend more time playing alone, eating and using the toilet with less assistance from you, and learn to get basic things without your assistance. Start encouraging everything they do without assistance, with words like “BIG GIRL” or “BIG BOY”, say with joy and encouragement!
When they ask you to do things that you know they are capable of accomplishing on their own, try to use a disapproving tone with them, such as “Wow, you’re acting like a small baby, I thought you were mama’s big boy”. This is simple child psychology. What you are doing is “Psyching” the child into believing that they are special because they are bigger/older. They don’t need your assistance as much, and this should be a rewarding period in their lives. When the new child is born they are likely to feel less threatened and more authorative being the big brother or sister now. They will be able to assist you with the new child, rather than agitate an already fragile situation.
You should already be teaching the child how to go get things on their own, with safety taken into consideration of course. Teach them how to clean up after themselves, and throw away things, and watch how useful this newly independent child becomes when the new baby is born. When you’re too exhausted to move from your bed, this one can become your helping hand, especially if you don’t have the assistance of a nanny or grandmother. They could go get the pampers for you, rinse off the pacifier or baby toy that fell on the floor. They could throw away the dirty diapers. Yes, the big brother or sister can have a variety of usefulness, with positive encouragement. They will begin to feel proud for helping you, proud of being the “big boy”, and most importantly, less intimidated by the new helpless child that can’t even feed themselves without mama’s assistance.
Lahoma Williams is an independent Columnist who specializes in Childhood Education and Development. For questions, please email her at [email protected]