Don’t be surprised when your firstborn misbehaves after the new baby arrives. He’s no
longer the centre of attention or the only kid. Now, he has to share his parents’ love and affection with a tiny little thing who seems to do nothing but cry.
Not surprisingly, your toddler cries and demands attention, too. He might even regress and refuse to use the toilet, wet the bed, or act helpless, needing help for simple tasks that he’s long been able to do himself, like dress or feed himself.
Invite your older child to help with simple activities like reading aloud to the baby, putting baby’s socks together, getting diapers. But don’t force this “big sibling” participation.
1. Be prepared for aggression Never leave your older child alone with the baby. Let your toddler know what is acceptable and not acceptable. Explain that you love him, that it is okay to feel angry, but it is never okay to hurt the baby.
2. Give a positive spin Don’t blame the baby and say things like “We have to go home now because baby needs a nap”. Say instead, “When baby naps, we can read those library books we borrowed”, or “After baby wakes up, we can go to the playground”.
3. Get her involved Invite your older child to help with simple activities like reading aloud to the baby, putting baby’s socks together, getting diapers. But don’t force this “big sibling” participation — by making him feel like he has to do this. When he does help, thank him.
4. Have one-on-one time Spend one-on-one time with your older child both when baby is asleep and awake. When you include the new arrival, your older child will know that baby doesn’t have to be out of the way for parents to spend time with him. Also tell your older child how much you love him — just as much as you did before the baby came along.
5. Distract them Some toddlers are especially needy when baby is being nursed. Prepare a box of small toys (nothing loud) and books he can play with quietly when baby is nursing. Enlist your toddler’s aid — ask him to bring things for you, like your phone or book, a bottle of water. Let him sit with you while you nurse, so you can read him a story, sing songs, or tell stories about when he was a baby.
Give your older child time to warm up to being the big brother or big sister and get used to the new baby in the family.
6. Don’t punish Punishing your older child when he acts out may make him feel unloved, unaccepted and pushed out by his new sibling, when he is already dealing with an overwhelming number of changes in his life. This could result in a cycle of more misbehaving and more punishment. Instead, let him talk about how he feels — sometimes, all he needs is attention.
7. Be realistic Don’t expect your older children to bond immediately with their new sibling. They may be hostile or angry, and they may ignore the baby for a while. Give your older child time to warm up to being the big brother or big sister and get used to the new baby in the family.
5 ways to stop siblings from fighting
How to reduce conflicts between your kids.
* Don’t be the referee Wait and see if they resolve it themselves. But if it gets physical, stop it right away. Let them know it is not right to hit another person on purpose.
* Don’t play favourites Try to be impartial, listen to each of your children and tell them it is important to be honest about their role in the fight. Encourage them to use phrases like “I didn’t like it when…” This describes an emotion and helps your children understand why their sibling acted or felt that way. Try to get them to solve the problem together. Ohio State University researchers have found that children as young as 2 can learn how to work through conflicts. For younger toddlers, you could suggest some solutions and let them decide.
* Don’t make the older kid take the high road It’s often tempting to ask an older child to give in to younger siblings. But that sends a message that only the older child needs to be responsible, and the younger one doesn’t.
* Praise positive actions When they work out their conflict peacefully, let them know how proud you are. Also acknowledge when they play well together, especially if a particular toy has set off countless fights.
* Teach empathy Toddlers often don’t pay attention to how their behaviour and actions affect others. So try asking them, how they would feel if someone hit, bit, kicked or yelled at them.
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