B.K. asks from Ithaca, NY on June 21, 2008
Hi Mommies - I am hoping someone can give me some advice. We had a baby 3 days ago, and came home yesterday. I have a 3 year old son who is the light of my life, but it seems like since the baby was born, all I am doing is telling him to stop it, don't do it, you can't do it, etc. It is always related to either him getting hurt or him hurting the baby , but it seems like everything is in the negative. He was very excited about the baby, but since I am always putting restrictions on his play with him (bouncing the seat too hard, pinching his head, jumping on the bed when we are on it), he has become much less enthused, and his relationship with me is different. I know this is "normal" - it was the first time I was ever away from him, and I know it is for their safety when I have to tell him to stop things, but it seems like I'm messing up here and I just want my sweet boy back who came into the hospital room so excited. I've tried talking to him not in the moment, and he understands the "rules" but he is definitely testing us, and has started to show some signs of anxiety. I see him sitting there thinking after I discipline, and then he does not want to be near me. I don't want to make any mistakes. Please help!
G.S. answers from New York on June 22, 2008
Unfortunately it gets even harder sometimes before it gets better. My girls are 4 & 10 and the rivalry continues on day after day. However, there isn't anything either of them wouldn't do for the other. What I have tried doing w/my oldest is allowing time for just her and I to spend together. From the time my youngest was born I would allow her to help out in anyway that she wanted, but I would also spend a little extra time with her. Once we got past the jealousy end, then we went onto the "you love her more then me bit" - as long as I know that I love both of them w/my heart that is all that matters. Not only that, there is a completely different relationship w/the baby. One thing that really helped me when Haley was born as that Samantha was almost 6, but that also worked against us. It's hard to be the enforcer when you are talking about little beings that we love entirely, but sometimes they have to learn that they can't always do things the way they want to. And fortunately babies are a little more resilient then we think - they're not going to break when someone is trying to put their binky in their nose! Good luck!
M.B. answers from New York on June 22, 2008
I know you you feel - felt the same way when I brought home baby number 2 and it still feels like that. My only suggestion is doing maybe find some things that he can do with and for the baby. Like my daughter would help out by running and getting the baby a bib or getting his bottle, or putting the top on the bottle and putting it back in the kitchen, or helping me pick out his clothes. I have to say I even created some "busy work" for my daughter so she thought she was participating. I hope that helps.
A.M. answers from Rochester on June 22, 2008
Congratulations on your new baby! I could have written this exact message a year ago. My daughter was 3 1/2 when my son was born and went through the same issues. It seemed as if everything I said began with "don't". She was very jealous of the time I spent nursing. He was a reflux baby and took a lot of time to feed. She poked him, picked him up, woke him up and... oh, yeah... rubbed elmer's glue in his hair! THe more I said "don't" the worse things seemed to get. What I discovered was that she really just wanted to be included. I read to her or had her nurse/diaper her baby when I did. When he got a little older, I began letting her be the "babysitter". I explained that a good babysitter entertains the baby and never makes the baby cry. Then showed her ways to entertain the baby. Then I would "go away" for just a minute and let her practice taking care of him. (Of course, I was always peeking around the corner) It was remarkable how hard she tried to keep him happy while "babysitting" and this effort seemed to spill over into the rest of the day as well. She needed lots of extra attention, love and praise, too. Her daddy really stepped up to fill this need and they have developed an even closer bond since the baby was born. The first few months were rough but once the baby was old enough to sit up and play with toys things got much easier. He's 13 months old now and they adore each other. Hang in there, once your little guy realizes that the baby is not replacing him and might even be his playmate someday things will get easier. Just remember to dole out lots of love and praise and everything will work itself out.
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T.B. answers from New York on June 22, 2008
I also experienced the same things when I brought our daughter home to our son. My advice, a year later, is to remain calm when you "remind" him to be careful around the baby... remember also that babies are very resilient and won't break from a little pinch or poke here and there. I would also try to include him as much as possible with positive things, could you bring me a diaper, can you hold the babies hand while I dress him etc. I feel your worry, my baby was also colicky, so I had a screaming baby to deal with and my nerves were frazzled to say the least and I would be very short with my son and then feel like crying after as he'd go off and play alone a lot. However, on the up side, the baby is now one and it has worked itself out quite a bit. Now I'm into sibling issues.... she can't touch my toys etc. This too shall pass...
J.J. answers from New York on June 22, 2008
you got a lot of great advice but i'll throw this in; my son is 3 and my daughter is 16 months and he wasn't at all jealous until she started walking and then he went berserk. he was doing all the obnoxious and sometimes scary things you described. BUT the good news is things have turned around a lot over the past two weeks, and here's why.
the 'date' w your son idea is good, but what you really need are two things; constant, ongoing discipline, and, constant, ongoing, rediculous amounts of love and reassurrance. i now tell my son, not less than 100 times a day and i am not kidding, that he is a good boy and that i love him. i praise every single thing that he does even if it seems rediculous, like, I like how you're using that train toy, and, i like the way you are eating that cookies, that's just how a big boy does it! EVERYTHING. sometimes the affection, the constant hugging and kissing and patting, seems to reach comic proportions, but he needs it and it's really helping.
as for the discipline, we have just started the '1-2-3 Magic' Program , as another mother suggested you do, with a psychologist's help, because things were really getting that bad. we needed results and fast because my son was hitting my daughter and everyone in his class, people on the street, picking fights with kids in the playground, it was insane. we found this guy through our pediatrician and he said to us, Just because it's a book doesn't mean it won't work; your son is great, he's bright, he has a lot going for him, but you need to put boundaries in place TODAY, and this method works.
we have been doing the method for about 2 weeks and we are seeing fantastic results. much as you described, we are sseeing the return of the loving, involved, adorable boy we know. the method is for children 2 to 12 and so far i really believe in it. you can just buy the book on line and do it yourself, you don't need professional help, we just felt that we needed that extra guidance.
good luck to you and remember, your son had no idea what it meant to bring home a new baby, all he knows now is that he has to share you with another person who he could easily squash, and that seems like a convenient answer to him. but he is a good boy, he loves you, and you can help him put his best foot forward once again.
J.M. answers from New York on June 22, 2008
My daughter is 19 months, and my newborn is 4 months, and my daughter is over excited about the baby too, however she doesn't seem to get angry or different with me when I tell her no for the 1,000th time. What I do know is be careful not to make it all about the baby, otherwise he may resent the baby. If he is bouncing on the bed, suggest another activity, if he is pinching ask him if he wants to hold the baby (with your help of course). Ask him to get a diaper for you or the wipes when you need to change the baby, these little things made/make the world of difference in my daughter's behavior. Think of it as channeling his excitement to something more constructive, and hopefully using it as a way to not have to say no so often. Good luck!
A.G. answers from New York on June 22, 2008
HI! I agree with the other Moms that you need to try to get him involved. My daughter was 5 1/2 when her baby sister was born and she made every moment difficult for the 1st week. I then fund ways to get her involved from getting me a drink when I was nursing to getting diapers, picking out outfits, and even folding baby laundry was fun for her. I also gave her a new baby doll to play with while I was busy with the real baby. I know your son is yonger but a baby of his own that he can use to imitate you with might help. I once had someone tell me that boys don't play with dolls but my response is if they are going to be dads why is playing with dolls a problem, just like girls can play with cars since someday they will drive one. Any way congratulations and good luck! A.
R.D. answers from New York on June 23, 2008
Hi B. - What has worked for me is to tell my older kids to be gentle with the baby rather than just saying no or stop it. I also let them explore the baby a bit, so to speak. We all sit on the bed together and they check out the baby, touch her, point out her eyes, their eyes, etc. I take their hands and gently pat the baby's belly or rub her head. They've gotten a little overly enthusiastic at times and made baby cry but then I say, that's why we need to be gentle with baby. I also tell them that she's their baby to help take care of and protect. When my son jumped on the bed, I asked him what would happen to the baby if he landed on her. He said she would get hurt so lets not do that. They seem to get it for the most part. Mine are 4, almost 2, and 6 months.
Good luck and congratulations!
A.D. answers from New York on June 25, 2008
Try to find ways to include your older son - have him give you the wipes or the diapers when you are changing the baby, if you are not exclusively nursing, maybe he can help hold the bottle while you hold the baby. Or, as one person said they bought a baby doll for their child to take care of while the parent was taking care of the new baby - IT IS OK TO GIVE BOYS DOLLS TOO!!!
I also agree with other posters that you should try and make special time every day for your 3 year old, where he knows that time is his (this is easier, the more help you have). He's going through a lot right now, he's used to being the center of your attention, so he's feeling a bit displaced, plus I'm sure he's excited and curious about the new baby too.
Good luck, they will eventually grow to be the best of friends.
K.W. answers from New York on June 23, 2008
when you see him about to do something that will hurt the baby- direct him to something he "can" do instead. "hey help mommy load the dryer c' mon lets go over here."
for example, I try to give my 21 month old son things he can do when I hear myself saying "no" too many times. He has a six month old sister and we taught him how to hug her softly or kiss her gently or hold her hand when he was being too rough with her.