Polk Moms

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Is there a way to teach our toddler to be gentler with his two-month-old sister other than getting upset with him? It could be that I am overprotective of her, but sometimes, I think he's trying to hurt her on purpose.

We had this problem with our three-year-old daughter and her newborn sister. Our pediatrician suggested that we try to keep things the same with our older daughter as much as we could. Sometimes, we even hired a neighborhood girl to come over and read and play with her. This seemed to work great. Of course, they are best friends today. - Mandy W. in Nashville, TN

FROM JODIE:

Everything pretty much revolved around him before the baby came, including various activities, conversation, playtime, story time, bath, nap and bedtime, etc. Then all of a sudden, he has to share all of this with a tiny being that makes a lot of noise, that he doesn't understand and is likely getting held and spoken to an awful lot instead of him. Jealous? Oh yes, indeed, he is jealous and pretty confused about the whole situation. If you feel like he is trying to hurt her on purpose, he may just be trying to get her to stop intruding on his territory and could be a little rough with her. He's basically thinking she needs to go back wherever the heck she came from so things can return to the way they were. Keep a watchful eye on him so that no harm is really done to the baby. Giving him little things to do for you might help him to understand that he can be a big help. Maybe let him bring you a diaper, blankie, burp pad, etc. and praise him for being such a big boy. When you or others talk to the baby, include him in the conversation. Once he is more accustomed to her, in addition to praising him as a big boy, also start using the term, “good big brother.” Make a point of letting him hear you say this to others and tell them how much help he is to you and his baby sister. Have a little, hidden stack of items that are wrapped for him. When individuals bring over a baby gift, and perhaps nothing for him, you can give him something from the stack so he doesn't feel left out. As soon as she starts smiling, be sure that he knows when she smiles at him. Use her name often when talking to him about her and same goes for when you talk to her. For example, “Amelia loves it when you sing to her. Don't you Amelia? Do you like it when your big brother, Michael, sings to you?” In no time at all, he will start calling her by her name and feel quite important that he can do so many things for her and make her smile.

CAN YOU HELP?
Every year we go over to my husband's mom's house for Thanksgiving. The house smells bad because of her three cats and our kids hate going over there. Should my husband say something to his mother about this? What should we do?
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