The parents of five-year-old Amisha noticed an aloofness in her behaviour when her mother gave her the news of a new baby on the way. When asked about it, she replied, “Now my parents will not be mine alone, but somebody else’s as well”.
The elder child’s psychology
It is quite natural for a child to be possessive about his or her parents. The problem arises mostly at the birth of the second child, especially if the elder child is more than three years old.
It is difficult for the little child who is loved, protected and pampered by his parents to digest the fact that she has to share her parents with another person.
In most cases, the older child may simply react to the situation by wanting to be a baby again e.g. by wishing to drink milk from the bottle or sitting on the mother’s lap. It’s better for parents to fulfill her wishes than rejecting them or making fun of them.
Once the parents agree, she will herself feel silly about acting like a baby. But, she may also feel threatened by the new arrival and look upon the baby as her rival.
This is primarily because everyone’s attention shifts from her to the younger one. And that’s what exactly causes a stir in the elder child’s mind.
Create love in her mind, not jealousy
A new baby in the house provides an opportunity for turning an elder child’s feelings of jealousy into feelings of love and responsibility towards the new baby.
This is possible only if you make the elder child feel that the younger one is her own. You could ask your child to help you with baby tasks such as bathing the baby, powdering or massaging him, dressing the baby or making the bed.
It will be a great source of pride for the elder child and she will enjoy it. Praise the elder child’s efforts so that she feels a sense of achievement in what she has done.
This will completely negate her feelings of jealousy. Never forbid her to touch the baby or baby’s things even if it means you have to boil the baby’s bottle again.
Be tactful when visitors admire the little baby without taking notice of the elder one. Ensure that the elder child is not left out but try to draw equal attention to her as far as possible.
Take time out to just talk or be with her. She should never get the impression that she is not getting any time with the parents because of the new baby. Ask for her opinion on small matters regarding the baby such as selection of clothes. Explain to her that the younger sibling is going to look up to her.
Also, do not feel frightened to show your love towards the new baby in the presence of the elder one. Children in the long run are more happy and secure in the family when they feel confident that everybody in the family is loved equally.
If your child is old enough to understand, prepare her mentally for the arrival of the baby and make her look forward to it with pleasure. Make sure that her own life doesn’t change much.