Is your toddler turning into the green-eyed monster around your new baby? Parent coach Debbie Lewis has the following tips on how to cope
Question: Toddler jealous of the baby
“I am the proud mum of 20-month-old toddler Jan and three-month-old Saskia. Jan always used to be a lovely little boy but lately he’s become horribly jealous. He keeps hitting me and Saskia, especially when I am breastfeeding her. He also gets quite rough with her on other occasions. How can I deal with his stop him hitting his little sister while not making him feel even more resentful?” Jane
This certainly sounds very difficult for you. I’m sure lots of people have said to you how common this situation is when a new baby comes along. If we look at this from Jan’s shoes, he really can’t understand why someone else is sharing his mum’s attention.
As children get older, they start to understand that your affections can be shared but it is often a struggle for toddlers who are used to having mum to themselves.
It really is OK for your son to be angry and upset but his behaviour isn’t. I’m sure you have realised that Jan’s hitting is just his way to get your attention. Hitting, like biting, often occurs when a child is feeling frustrated and struggling to find another way to express himself.
The best way to deal with any behaviour you don’t want it is to ignore it. With hitting, it is also important that you give your child the message that it is not acceptable to hurt other people.
When your child hits, either remove them from the situation in a matter-of-fact way or move yourself. Say to them calmly and clearly: “It’s OK to feel angry/cross/upset but NO hitting” and walk away. Remember that telling off your child puts them into the spotlight even if it’s for the wrong reason.
Although I imagine you are busy with your new baby think of some ways that you can also spend some special time with Jan (perhaps when the baby is sleeping or when the baby is with your partner if you have one). Ask your friends and family to make a special fuss of him as well as the baby and include Jan in taking care of the baby (getting nappies etc).
What Jan needs to know is that he is still important, hasn’t been replaced and that you have enough to give him as well as your new baby. And, most importantly, make sure that there is some time left for you!
Meet Debbie Lewis
Debbie is a specialist parent coach who regularly contributes on parenting issues to national and regional media including Channel 5′s Trisha Goddard Show. Debbie runs Curve Coaching providing life coaching, parent coaching and professional training and has worked for over ten years with adults and children in a broad range of jobs including nanny, consultant, social worker and running parenting groups. Debbie Lewis is a registered member of The Parenting and Education Support Forum, The General Social Care Council, an NLP Practitioner and accredited life coach.