“Mommy Doesn’t Love Me Anymore” Sibling Jealousy When You Have A Newborn
While there is much joy in having a new baby, bringing a newborn home can be stressful, especially to the big brother or sister. Parents must remember that an infant is not only an adjustment for them, but for the whole family.
Many times older children will begin behaving differently when a new sibling is introduced to the family. A child might become selfish or needy which can be misinterpreted as misbehaving but is often just reactions to adjusting to a new sibling arriving. To the older child, it may feel as if this new child has come home to take their parents’ love and attention away from them. Some children may warm up to the challenge more easily than others.
Canopy Children’s Solutions’ Hart Wylie, PMHNP-BC, helped shed some light on the different emotions children may feel, and how parents can help counter these feelings through inclusive approaches.
Wylie stated, “I think it is important to recognize that it is normal for a sibling to feel uncertainty, fear, or even outright jealousy when a new sibling joins the family. This can happen when a baby is born, a child is adopted, or a foster child joins the family.” There are some creative ways parents can help gently nudge older children to be more accepting of their new sibling. The new sibling can “give” their older sibling a sweet gift they will love. By using this technique, you are showing the younger sibling in a more positive light to the older child, which may help decrease negative feelings the child may have.
Another great way for parents to help spread the love and attention to their older child would be to dedicate more time to him or her. A great way to accomplish this is to get a babysitter for part of the day and spend time with the older sibling doing something they enjoy. This could be playing their favorite game, taking them to the park, or even going to get ice cream. You can also engage the help of the spouse or grandparents to allow for more “mommy and me” time with the older sibling.
“That focused attention for a short time pays off big time,” says Wylie. “Letting the older child know that they aren’t losing affection from their parents, and that they will still receive one-on-one time they crave could help ease tension and make accepting their new role as an older sibling a little smoother. Trying to balance a new baby while finding time to dedicate to an older child can be challenging, but it is possible.”
It is easy to experience mom-guilt when you feel that one child isn’t getting enough attention, because newborns do require a lot of love, care, attention, and time. Remembering to include the older child in the everyday routines of helping with their sibling, letting them know they are doing a great job as an older sibling, and carving out a little quality time to spend with only them, is a great way to help maneuver through the most crucial part of introducing a new sibling to the family.
Chelsea Rogers is a writer at Canopy Children’s Solutions. Canopy Children’s Solutions is Mississippi’s largest and most comprehensive nonprofit provider of children’s behavioral health, educational and social service solutions. Founded in 1912, Canopy offers a full array of integrated, community-based services in all 82 counties as well as intensive campus-based and educational programming. For more information, please contact 800-388-6247 or visit us on the web at mycanopy.org.