19 answers

4 Year Old Acting Out Because of New Baby Sister

My daughter is 4 years old and I just had a new baby who now is 5 weeks. At first Hannah (4 year old) was really good and accepting of the baby well since she has realized that baby gets more attention she's been very rebelious and difficult. I've tried to explain to her that babies need more attention and that when she was a baby I gave her lots of attention I encourage her to look through her scrapbook of pictures of her and I when she was a baby. I also try to make special Mommy Hannah time with something to look forward to on the weekends because I work other days and I am exhausted when I get home so my weekends are time for her. It isn't working. Hannah is throwing tantrums and saying mean things about herself like nobody loves me, or it's all my fault. It also get's complicated because I am divorced and her father is "disneyland" Dad so she now is saying she wants to live with her Dad which hurts my feelings. My new husband is kind of hard on her. I think he gets frustrated and so she is always in time out and I just feel so bad... Any advice on how I can not only handle Hannah in a way that she understands but also explain this to my current husband as how he can be a little more easy going with her and more compassionate?

What can I do next?

So What Happened?™

My 4 year old is doing better. I've let her help with the baby more so because the baby can hold her head up better so Hannah (4yr old)is a little more comfortable with holding her sister. I've also made it important to really praise her when she does something good, and ignore her negative comments. Thanks to everyone who gave me advice.

Featured Answers

Hi J.,
I agree with having her be a helper. I think that if you were to involve her with everything it could help. My son was 2 and a half when his little brother came. I let Noah get the diapers, wipes, bottles, pick out his clothes, ect. It took longer to have him help be he always loved to so it didn't matter that it took longer. Good luck.

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More Answers

You're doing the right things. It will just take some adjustment time. Simple as that. When I had my second, I read that it is important to tend to the baby to make sure you bond to the baby. Your bonds with your older child are strong and resilient and you must trust all your hard work with her. Don't be tempted to jeopardize your relationship with your baby. Your older child understands, even though she doesn't like it.

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THis is very normal. Let hew know that it is okay to feel the way she does (babies DO get a lot of attention) and continue doing what you are doing. She probably wants some validation and extra attention. Since it sounds like you are doing the latter, it is okay to acknowledge her feelings. And be sure to give her extra hugs and a little extra TLC whenever you can-- not just on your day alone with her. Encourage her to sit with you as you hold the baby. Maybe read her a story while she's there. But it sounds like you are doing what you can. Have patience, she will come around soon enough.

1 mom found this helpful

Try to get her to help out with the baby get her to feel like its her baby too. I have a 4 year old step son and I baby sit his cousins alot. Who are 2 months and 1 yr but at first he was very jealous. Until I asked him for help then he became excited. From there he was fine with them being here. So my advice would be try to have her help you. Like ask her to get the diapers and wipes for you or have her help you feed her. Let me know how it works out

1 mom found this helpful

I am sorry to hear of the tourblent waters. I have a 5 year old and one on the way in January. We have had some of the same issues with Grace already. what we did was to one make sure she understood her "status" was not in jepordy at all with the new one coming. She has speicial things she does with me and with her Dad.

On the Disneyland Dad side- I had one of those myself and saw first hand how distructive it can be. My brother used it as his weapon of choice as my mom had more kids. If you can,sit down with your ex and try( I know it sucks) to set some rules for each house that are the same and explain to him the issues that are starting to come up. It is better to get on the same page before the kids get any older b.c it will become a much bigger issue then.


1 mom found this helpful

As everyone else said, get her involved in helping with the baby...diapers, wipes, burp cloth, etc. My baby is 7 months old now and starting some separation anxiety, so I'll have my 4 year old play/talk with her brother while I get his bottle, go to the bathroom, get lunch ready, etc. She loves getting to play with him and she's the only one who can get him to really laugh right now! She had started acting out, but after letting her be more involved, things have settle down. Another thing I've noticed with my kids is that they'll start misbehaving when I'm feeding the baby because they thought Mommy wouldn't stop to discipline them, the baby will be fine for the short time it takes to put her in time out.

Good luck and congrats on the new little girl!

1 mom found this helpful

I agree with all the advice you have received in trying to include your older daughter with the care of your baby. I was wondering if you had thought of having your husband take over with the baby for 30-60 minutes each evening, so you can have some alone time with Hannah? This would be an ideal time for your husband to bond with the baby, while you can sit and play with Hannah. I know everyone wants a piece of you, especially with a new baby at home, but perhaps your husband can help out with his child while you get some one on one time with Hannah.

1 mom found this helpful

My only advice, is to really really give her attention when she does good things. If she normally throws a tantrum at dinner time, and she doesn't one day, totally play it up and tell her how wonderful she is and give her a treat or something. She is obviously getting something out of being naughty. if attention is what she wants, give it to her, but give it to her for good behavior instead of bad. when our son did this, we made him go to his room until he "decides to be a happy boy" so he knows that it is a choice he makes himself. he realized that we don't want to be around him when he decides to be naughty or whiney.
good luck!

1 mom found this helpful

My sister just had this problem and got wonderful advice from a friend which I will try to pass on third hand. She involved her son by telling him the baby was looking at him and smiling at him and maybe he could entertain his little brother and get him to stop crying. This gave my nephew a job and a way to interact with an infant and be the big brother without all the negatives. So without too much touching or holding, my nephew tries really hard to be a good big brother because he knows he can have a positive impact on his little brother. Does your daughter know how to read? When my two year old was visiting his baby cousin he brought out books and told "stories" and showed the baby things that he knew (kinds of animals, trucks and buildings). It gave him a sense of purpose and let him show off a bit. I know this is not as close a relationship as an everyday interaction, but it may help for 10-15 minutes at a time so Hannah can interact with Aubree. Your husband may be able to see that Hannah can be a good big sister and be a little easier on her.
Good luck~

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