Dealing with Gender Disappointment from 5Yo.

Updated on May 13, 2015
M.C. asks from Louisville, KY
21 answers

My dd just turned 5 last week. She has been SUPER excited to have a sibling on the way, but hasn't made it a secret that she wanted a sister. Every time she brought it up I would tell her that we don't get to choose, and it could be a brother. Lo and behold, we found out at this morning's 20 week scan that we have a little boy on the way. We told her the news as happily as we could, but she still wound up in tears over not getting a sister.

I think she will feel better with time as she gets used to the idea, but I would like some ideas of what to do to help her get excited for her new brother. We made some progress by watching a video of the ultrasound, when she got to watch him flip upside down and hang his bum over his head. She loved that her little brother is already so "silly"... Buuut she is still very dissapointed. I plan to take her tomorrow to pick out something for him (I told her that when we found out the gender, I would let her buy the first toy for the baby, and she has been saving up and looking for toys everywhere we go.)

Any other ideas? I plan to back off a bit after our shopping trip tomorrow to give her time to come to terms with the idea... But I still want to encourage her to see having a brother n a positive light.

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So What Happened?

Thanks for the suggestions... I do want to point out though that I really haven't been making a big deal out of the pregnancy to her, beyond going along with what she instigates. She has been wanting a sibling for a LONG time, and there was no hiding it, so we did tell her soon after we found out. She has been super excited about it, and brings up something about the baby herself almost daily. The only thing I really do is to invite her to watch a weekly development video with me, which she absolutely loves (and helps her with the wait... She knows baby will be coming close to Halloween). Otherwise, most of the baby talk is instigated by her. Even buying the toy was her idea- Grandma and Grandpa gave her some money, and she wanted to buy a toy for the baby, but I told her she needed to wait for a while before I took her shopping for it. I wouldn't quite say she's obsessed, but she iis very excited.

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answers from Jacksonville on

She's 5. You are 20 weeks along. That means you have another (roughly) 5 months left before the baby arrives. That's almost half a year.... which seems like a LIFETIME to a 5 year old.

I would just not dwell on it. It is. Just a fact. No need to continue belaboring the point. On the occasions when it is relevant, fine, but for anything else, I wouldn't draw any additional attention to the idea of it being a boy. Go back to saying "the baby" instead of "little brother" for example. She knows. No need to beat her over the head with it every time you mention him.

Just for a while.

In another month, you can refer to him as "him" or her "little brother." But for right now, I'd drop that detail from any references.

As time goes by, she'll become accustomed to the idea. And as long as you treat it as just one more fun detail about the baby and not something traumatic or "disappointing" for her... It'll be fine. She will come to see it the same as you, whatever that is: a disappointment; or something fun, new and different.

But it's still a LONG way away for her. It seems like right around the corner for you, probably. But, don't you remember how it seemed like eons between Christmases when you were young? That's where her frame of reference for time is.

9 moms found this helpful


answers from Philadelphia on

She is going to fall in love with him when he is born. I would not dwell on the fact that he is a boy. Actually I would down play the whole pregnancy. You are only at the half way mark.

Congratulations BTW!!!!

6 moms found this helpful

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answers from Austin on

Quit talking about it.

You can be happy about his, but to her this is a bit frightening and will feel endless.

Young children like control. She has none in this situation. And when the infant comes home and is crying, hungry , needing to be changed and everyone is cooing all over him, it is going to rock her world in a way she cannot be prepared for.

Take a step back and let her know she is an important person in the family. She will always be your only girl. And you will always love her. Give her time, but try to focus on something other than the bay all of the time. see if you can skip talking about the baby every other day until it gets closer.

She is still only 5, she will be a "big helper" when the baby gets here, but allow her to fall in love on her own. Does she have baby dolls or stuffed toys that she plays with as if they are babies? Does she have a baby carriage, a baby doll crib? Or some small family toys and doll house? These types of toys are a good way for her to work out some of these new dynamics.
Completely normal.

7 moms found this helpful


answers from Boston on

Let it go. It's going to be SOOOO long in her lifetime before she sees this new sibling, she'll be a whole new person by then. Something else will take center stage in her life.

Stop talking about it, stop shopping, let her feel sad, say, "I'm sorry you're disappointed". Start thinking of ways to broader everyone's view of what boys do/are vs. girls. Don't completely ignore her rants, but don't get sucked into them. Don't buy anything else after this shopping trip, and let things take their course.

I was shocked to be expecting a boy and thought I only knew how to deal with girls. And I was in my late 30s! I worked it out, your daughter will too.

7 moms found this helpful


answers from Appleton on

Into every life disappointment falls. This is how we learn coping skills.

6 moms found this helpful


answers from Los Angeles on

my 5-year-old cried at our gender reveal when she found out it was a boy. My approach was different. I let her be disappointed. I knew all would be well once she met the baby. Truth was, after 2 girls, I wasn't so sure about having a boy either. She knew what to expect with a baby girl, but she didn't have a vision for a boy. Neither did I. I reminder her how much she loved her boy cousins and that helped her some.

I think the shopping trip is a great idea, but don't let her see those cute baby girl things, or it may just make it worse for her. But I agree that after this one tactic, you let it go. Let her have her feelings. They won't last long.

5 moms found this helpful


answers from Columbia on

I honestly wouldn't give it another thought. I'd focus less on the gender or even how exciting it is that she's going to be a big sister, and more on how you love her and how she'll always be your baby because she's your first. Yes, it's fun that you're having another child, but you do already have one, and her world ought not revolve around her little brother.

Step back a little from the baby excitement and just let her be her. She'll come to terms on her own.

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answers from Washington DC on

i would stop all of your fixes, and right now.
i totally get your daughter's disappointment. i was downright MAD at my mom for bringing home an endless stream of grody little boys, when i was so clear with her about how important it was that i get a sister. i just couldn't believe how unobliging she was.
but that's life. making it seem as if she's been treated unfairly somehow is giving her a skewed perspective. this is one life lesson that should be served straight- 'you're getting a little brother, and this is wonderful!'
i'm not saying ignore her disappointment. but be brisk and no-nonsense about it. 'encouraging' her to be 'positive' is actually coddling and encouraging more tears and feeling sorry for herself.
i would not indulge this any further.

5 moms found this helpful


answers from San Francisco on

Isn'tthisfun? gave you perfect advice. Parents get so excited about these things but really this is something you're actually making worse for your daughter by talking about and stressing over so much. Drop it, and try to keep your daughter's day to day routine as normal as possible. Keep the "new baby brother" talk to a minimum, don't even bring it up unless she brings it up or has questions. I know you're excited and nervous but 20 more weeks is an eternity for a five year old, wait until you get close to your due date to start discussing things like going to the hospital, buying toys/presents and what to expect when the baby comes home.

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answers from St. Louis on

Is she really disappointed or is she acting like she usually does when she doesn't get what she wants? I find it very hard to believe that all of a sudden what was a non issue when my kids were young, when I was young, suddenly is this point of disappointment.

You are speaking as if she should have got what she wanted, that this was something promised and now she is sad she didn't get it. This is a baby, not a toy, not a puppy, a human being.

I have friends going through this, they have a girl and a boy, now another boy on the way, and she is all this isn't fair, I wanted another sister!!!! Takes everything in my power not to point out they should have considered this before they made her the center of the universe. You may as well start now because my friend's son is very well adjusted, very normal, mostly because this girl demands she still be the center of attention. God knows what is going to happen with the third.

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Washington DC on

My daughter was 2 1/2 when we found out she was getting two brothers and the babies weren't girls. She was sad, but at 2 1/2, I simply told her that you don't always get what you want and she had to get over it. That was the last discussion about it. She loves her brothers and has loved them since they were born. She does have her favorite, but it varies depending on her mood. Instead of making a big deal about how wonderful having a brother will be, use this as a teaching moment that you don't always get what you want. I use this phrase all the time with my kids, "you get what you get and you don't get upset." I think you are making too big of a deal about it and she's feeding off of it.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Houston on

My daughter was the same way. She was 4 when her little brother was born. However, we didn't know we were having a boy until our son was born! My husband went over to our friend's house to tell her she had a little brother. The whole time I was pregnant she would say "my sister" and I would correct her and say you could get a little brother and she would say "no mommy, my sister".

Well she was not happy. She told my husband "I told you I wanted a sister, now go back and get me one". He just looked at her and said "ah, no, you have a brother". She came to the hospital and wouldn't talk to me. She held him but wasn't thrilled. I didn't make a big deal out of this because this is life.

She and I had a conversation when we got home because she was still Miss Pouty face and honestly, I was getting annoyed. I told her that we don't always get what we want but that a brother was awesome. I reminded her that she loved her Uncle and he was my little brother. I also told her that if she had a sister she would share her barbies and all her dress up clothes. She wasn't thrilled with that idea. I said your brother isn't going to want to play with your Barbie (he was a GI Joe Boy).

After that, I didn't really say anything else. When she made a comment I just said, "stop, you have a brother and that's the end of it". She only did this for a couple of weeks.

She is 26 and he is 22. Every now and then when he does something bonehead she will say "see, you should have had a girl and laughs".

Personally, I would stop with all the encouraging and just let it be. She will have to understand that life is a box of chocolate, you never know what you are going to get.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Kansas City on

I think you let it go. YOU'RE happy, and she can be happy or unhappy as she chooses. She needs to know that your every happiness isn't dependent upon her getting what she wants - what better time to start teaching this lesson? We don't need to color their little worlds rosy over every little thing. Just imagine when the baby actually gets here and she realizes mom isn't going to be 100% just hers anymore. There will be disappointments in life. I say next time she complains or mentions it just shrug and say, "Darn it, I hate when I don't get what I want! But we are SOOO lucky we're getting a brand new baby in the family and he will be a wonderful blessing for us!" I wouldn't engage any more than that, going forward.

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answers from Baton Rouge on

Surely this isn't the first time she has wanted something and not gotten it. She got over other disappointments, didn't she?
Stop trying to "help" her get over it. The more you stay on the subject, the longer she is going to take to get over it, because NOT getting over it is being rewarded.
Drop the subject. She knows the baby is a boy, that isn't going to change, and that's that.

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answers from Washington DC on

Well, gender disappointment is something to work through. You've already said she doesn't get to choose. Did you tell her that you didn't get to choose her gender, either? I would also look for positive sister-brother associations, or just positives about having a sibling. What is it (if she can articulate it) that she so longed for in a sister? Someone to play with? Brothers can do that. Someone to dress up with? Brothers can do that, too. Boys can have tea parties, play house and any number of other things. I think if you can figure out what got into her little head about sisters you might be able to find the solution re: brothers.

My bet? She'll love him dearly once she can see his face.

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answers from Salinas on

I agree that there is way too much focus on how she feels. At five she is plenty old enough to understand a few things. We can't choose the gender, a healthy baby is what we all want and most important this is not about her, it's about her FAMILY.

Watch the hyper focus on what she "feels". It's a trap for many parents and in my observation can get very ugly as children grow. You don't need to help her get excited for her new brother. She can be excited or she can be disappointed, either way she'll get over it soon enough without any help from you. This is one very clear cut case of "you get what you get and you don't throw a fit".

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answers from New York on

You told her. Now just go in eith life. Let her digest it. Guarantee she will be excited as time goes on. Congratulations.

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answers from Seattle on

I remember when my 4th brother was born :( :( :( :(

so I turned it into a positive, I dressed him up in all the girl clothes I could find, and swaddled him in all the pink blankets I could locate and told everybody his name was Daniela (really it was Daniel) and I would take pictures of him with bows in his hair...and then poof, one day, I was totally fine with him being a boy.

To this day, he's a pretty sweet brother :)

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answers from Portland on

Mine weren't thrilled to be getting the last one (they were done with babies) so they had wanted a dog - not a baby.

Talk about disappointment!

When my kids get disappointed about things we have no control over, I actually don't empathize too much ... because I think we can blow it out of proportion. They take their cues from us sometimes, so if you keep stressing "it will great!" etc. they will be suspicious - because we don't tend to reassure them over things that are naturally great. I know my kids look at me when I tell them "Really, it will be fun" as if I'm not to be trusted.

I think that I would listen to her more than try to do anything at this point. If she gets upset, ask her what she's upset about and then answer in ways that are positive. So if she says "I can't play with a brother" you can answer that you can play dress up, go biking, play on swings, etc. (basically anything you can do with a sister... my kids all played pretty much the same things anyways). That should ease her fears.

Good luck :)

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answers from Washington DC on

My daughter was less than 18 months old when we found out we had a boy on the way, and then she was 3 when we found out another boy was on the way. She always wanted a sister and was made both times. Now she loves it. She is the only princess, she always gets her own stuff, and she gets to do her favorite thing (dance) which she couldn't do at the competitive level if she had a sister who also wanted to dance.

She will get over it and will love her brother when he gets here. It's a long time before baby comes and the more you talk about it, the more stressed she will be. I wouldn't worry about it or make a big deal about it at all.

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answers from Las Vegas on

She is five, she really can't comprehend completely that you have no choice as to the baby's sex... I think it's great that you are trying to relate all the positives about having a baby brother. However, I am also a realist.. when certain things get to a point, I am as direct as I can be ..I am NOT harsh about things, but after awhile, I found it was best to be direct.. I would eventually say... we are having a boy and can't change it.. let's look at all the positives.. plus, it's not that big of a deal.. kids get over things better than we give them credit. she is going to be ok... it's the adults who have the hangups..

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