Why Are They Mean to Younger Siblings?

Mom had been preparing two-year-old Jamie for the arrival of the new baby. “Oh, Jamie, it’ll be so nice to have a little brother. You’ll have someone to play with. I know you’ll just love being a big brother.” Jamie was all smiles.
 
How long, do you suppose it was before Jamie’s smile was gone, and he was not thrilled with the intrusion into his life? You’re right. He soon found out that he was no longer the center of attention. His constant acting out just added to the rigors of taking care of a new baby.
 
“I don’t know why he has to be so mean to little Jeffrey. I have to watch him every minute for fear that he will hurt the little one,” bemoaned Mom.
 
A Solution to This Age Old Problem
Jamie probably feels a loss of love and control. He’s trying to get it back the only way he knows how.
 
Sample Dialogue
“Jamie, we are going to have a new baby, and that’s hard for everyone. Babies cry a lot and they take up a lot of our time. It won’t be fun for a while. You might feel left out sometimes.”
 
Teaching How to Get Love and Time on the Parent’s Terms
“When you feel left out, come to me and pull on my shirt.” (Practice this several times to lock in the training.) “That will tell me that you need some of Mommy’s love and time.”
 
You will find that giving the older child some control like this does a good job of eliminating his/her trying to get the attention in negative ways. As one mother told me, “Now that I’ve done that, he no longer bites the baby’s toes. I thought he was just being mean, but now I know differently.”
 
Thanks for reading about one of the roots of sibling rivalry. You can learn a lot more in our CD, Sibling Rivalry: Strategies for Teaching Your Kids How to Get Along.
 
Jim Fay