Sibling rivalry...help please...(6 Posts)
DS is 2.7 and dd is 7 weeks.
Clearly I was expecting DS to be jealous, after having 100% of everyone's attention for his entire life. But the strategies I'm trying aren't working. He wants to be on my knee as soon as I pick her up, and I'm bfing so that's a lot! I've tried and I physically can't fit them both on whilst feeding. He won't sit next to me and read a story. Eventually he gets more and more frustrated and tries to bite or hit dd. I've resorted to putting him in the hall with the stairgate shut whilst I feed her, which clearly is not going to help his jealousy.
When she's asleep I really try to play with him and give him lots of attention, but what he wants to do is "play" with dd - ie, rock the crib manically or try to climb on her. I've tried involving him in her care, eg asking him to help me do her nappy, but he just tries to bite her.
What do I do? I feel like all I do is chastise him or remove him from the room, but surely I have to let him know this behaviour isn't on? I'm really trying to give him positive attention but it's hard when he's constantly trying to hurt her. DH works long hours so it's just me and the children most of the time - DS has two days in nursery, that's it.
DS was about this age when ds2 was born. I put together a special box of new toys and activities that only came out during breastfeeds. I would sit on the floor to feed and we would pick something out the box to play whilst I fed.
Ok, I have 2.8 year old DS and 10 week old DS2.
I don't know if I've been lucky (probably that!) or any of my strategies have worked, but DS1 seems to have taken the arrival of his brother well. He is a VERY clingy toddler so this has come as a surprise.
Things we do:
- we talk all the time about the baby being "too little" for things that DS1 can do. Eg. "Ooh, look DS1, you've got a croissant. Can baby DS2 eat croissants? [Crinkle nose and giggle] Nooooooo. Babies can't eat croissant!!! They're too little."
Anyway, I bang on like this all the time to try and show DS1 that he has lots of advantages and babies only get the boring stuff. Honestly, I must do this a zillion times a day.
- I praise DS1 for every single time he shows any affection to DS2. Even when it's a bit violent. Then I just go "oh wow, what an amazing big brother you are. Gently, he's so little. That's right. Oh he loves you stroking his head so much. Well done big brother." Again, I really bang on about this.
- I take every opportunity to point out to DS1 that DS2 loves him best and finds him funniest. So if the baby smiles at him, I will point it out to DS1 and say "Look, DS1, baby DS2 is smiling at you. He thinks you are so funny and amazing because you are his big brother". And I then kiss and hug DS1 a lot.
- I have developed the ability to stuff DS2 on the boob and balance DS1 on my knee. I know you said you couldn't do it, but I try to do it simply because I don't want DS1 to feel jealous. At first he wanted to do it all the time, but now he gets bored quickly. Now actually I jiggle my knees and make a joke of him falling off and he takes it well.
- I try to involve DS1 in helping me calm down DS2. We play lots of games like: "Hm, DS1, what does he want?" when he cries. DS1 shouts "he wants milk'" or "oh, are you tired baby?" and I am very silly and say "noooooo, try again!"
- I never say to DS1 that I can't do anything because of the baby. So when I am feeding DS2 and DS1 wants something, I make a joke and say "Ahhh, I'm stuck, I can't make it" in a silly voice. Basically I joke around and try as defuse the situation instead of ever allowing DS1 to blame the baby.
- I make sure every day I do something just with DS1 - bedtime stories and songs; singing and dancing; milk and a marshmallow at the local coffee shop.
Hm, reading this back, I see that my only strategy is never to treat DS1 like he is anything but thrilled about the baby and always helping me out and joking about everything to keep the mood light. DS1 finds it harder to get grumpy or jealous when we have lots of in-jokes.
Sorry if this was a whole rambling load of shite rather than helpful. It's so hard to know what works for one toddler or another as they are so different. But hope things improve soon - I'm sure they will. I find it exhausting juggling two but am gradually seeing it pay off and DS1 accepting his sibling.
Thanks both. That's really helpful. I do praise him for showing affection/make a fuss about things dd can't do as she's a baby, but I could certainly do them more. I like the toy box idea too and I will be thinking about my language so I don't "blame" dd for spoiling DS' fun. Lots to try, thank you!
The breastfeeding toy box is good for me too. I also have a bribe bag full of cheap sticker books from Poundland. When I feed DS2 and DS1 is angling to get involved, I whip it out and ask if DS1 would like something special for big brothers. He is normally so thrilled that he gets entirely distracted.
Mind you, earlier tonight DS1 was having a tantrum over his dinner and DS2 began crying too because he wanted a feed. I wanted to drink three buckets of gin and fall on my own face.
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