A new baby’s arrival is always a happy event for the whole family, but it can cause unpleasant feelings in the family’s first child.
As well as parents have prepared the ground for the new sibling, the older child’s reactions can be unpredictable. He usually reacts with jealousy towards the baby because the mother’s attention is now focused on meeting the baby’s needs. She’s afraid she’s lost mom’s love since, as seen in the eyes of a little kid, mom doesn’t care about that anymore.
The jealousy and anger of the firstborn child can manifest in the following ways:
· He can be aggressive towards his little brother – especially if he is up to 4-5 years old, biting him, closing his mouth, throwing objects at him, etc.
· He can show bad behavior towards his parents, grumble, get angry about trivial things. He’s likely to pinch you, push you, bite you, curse you and, in general, enlist all the ways to get your attention.
· It may show a refusal to eat and acquire quirks in eating habits.
· He may have trouble sleeping – that is, refusing or having trouble sleeping, waking up during the night, or asking to sleep in your room.
· He can ignore the baby or can act like he doesn’t exist.
· It is possible to regress to habits and behaviors of previous developmental stages, such as using a pacifier, showing night urination, and wearing a diaper or breastfeed.
· The older child may avoid talking about his negative feelings, shutting himself down and isolating by avoiding social contacts. However, these negative feelings that do not externalize can cause physical reactions (e.g., hair loss, gastrointestinal discomfort, or skin diseases).
What can you do to prevent and deal with this situation?
Before the second baby comes…
· Tell the child that in a short time, he will have a baby brother. You can involve him in the pregnancy process, motivate him to caress your belly, see an ultrasound together, or shop for baby things.
· Reassure the child, telling him that he will always be unique and dear to you. Thus, he will gradually realize that his parents will love two children from now on and not just one, but they will love them the same.
· Prepare it for the days when you’ll be in the maternity ward, and you won’t be around. Make sure he has enough attention and care from dad and close relatives during that time.
· It is of the utmost importance not to associate the baby’s arrival with significant changes in the older child’s life and schedule. If, for example, the child goes to daycare, it is a good idea to keep going like before. On the other hand, if he does not go, do not link the beginning of school with the arrival of the baby, because the child may feel that you are driving him out of the house to take care of the baby.
After the baby was born…
· Naturally, the infant has more significant practical needs, but the other child has more emotional needs. You can talk to him at every opportunity by motivating him to express his feelings if, of course, his age allows it. It’s good to explain that what he feels is normal, and he doesn’t have to have bad feelings or even remorse. You can give him some examples from your childhood (how you felt like an older or younger child if you were outraged once, if you had done something strange to the baby).
· Depending on his age, you can assign him various responsibilities regarding the care of the baby, such as feeding the baby, taking it for a walk in the stroller, taking it for a bath, dressing it, playing with it, and of course all this with the supervision of an older one. If he still does not want to deal with the baby because he needs more time to adjust to his presence, respect his desire.
· Remember to take advantage of the free time offered by the new baby by having activities exclusively with your eldest child.
· Show him some pictures from his infancy. Explain to him that he takes care of it, just like a small baby.
· If possible, talk to family and friends, stressing that it is essential not to ignore the eldest child, only taking care of the baby.
In these ways, you will be able to restore balance to your family environment. As long as you have patience and over time, a healthy relationship will be established between the two siblings.