MOMMY 101: Coping with New Baby Jealousy

fighting kids

 

[image via showthelove.com]

Anyone with a sibling can attest to having “disagreements”.  It comes with the territory.  In some homes more than others, but disagreements none the less.  I have two siblings, both male.  Our disagreements were usually over the remote control, who got to sit in the front seat of the car, or who got to be player 1 on Super Mario Brothers {did I mention I’m old}.  I’d say that all of our disagreements were rather minor.  No one ever grabbed a knife, no one ever used a curse word and mom never had to “pull the car over”.  I’d also say, at least from my perspective, that there was never any jealousy among us. I’ve mentioned before that I come from a very humble upbringing and what we had we shared.

As I watch my family grow and the unique personalities of each of my children develop, I am beginning to see power struggles that were not there before.  Jaxon and Julia may as well have been twins because they match each other tit for tat and neither likes to go down without a fight.  There are times when they’re in the heat of a battle {usually over who gets to use the blue Power Ranger action figure} and I watch and listen, of course pretending to be completely oblivious, to how one of them skillfully tries to convince the other to give in.  When the disagreement turns into one or both of them screaming for mommy, that’s when I tell them to come up with a “win-win”.  A “win-win” solution is something that Jaxon’s Kinder class focused on last year and I try my best to pull that out of my bag of tricks every time they disagree.  There’s something about working together to come to a conclusion that makes the solution much more enjoyable.  Not only for children but for adults as well.  No one feels slighted or taken advantage of each party can move on.  9 times out of 10 Jax and Julia able to negotiate something and everything’s right with the world again, but there are times when it doesn’t go down exactly as I hope.  That’s when it’s time to turn out the lights and go to sleep.  What is it about bed time that makes kids flip out?  It’s like you’re sentencing them to death.  It’s worse than a spanking.

Not only are there power struggles between the children, but now that we have another little one at home, I’ve been praying that the older children don’t begin to feel jealous of the new baby because he’s getting so much of my attention.  The other night, at bedtime, Jaxon dropped the bomb.  “All you care about is Jonny!  You don’t love me!”  His words penetrated my heart.  I tried to tell myself that he was very sleepy and so he was just being overly dramatic.  Didn’t work. I knew he felt and meant what he said.  What’s worse is I couldn’t console him at that moment because I was nursing Jonny.  All I could say from the other room was, “That’s not true, Jaxon.  I love you very much!”  I couldn’t help feeling like I was failing my child.  No mother ever wants her child to feel unloved.  When I was done nursing Jonny, I put him down and went to Jaxon’s room but by then he had cried himself to sleep.  I got in bed with him and woke him up so that he knew I was there.  I reassured him that I loved him and made clear how important he is to me.  He was mumbling “okay mommy” between snores.  Part of me wants to believe that an episode like this won’t happen again, but I know how smart my children are and I know that they have a tendency to say whatever it is that’s on their minds.  The question is how will I respond.

I’ve been thinking about a solution ever since this happened and I feel like there really is no quick or single solution.  Assuring my children of how much they mean to me is a daily task that must be carried out in actions, not just words.  Getting back on track with one/one dates are a must.  And regardless of how tired I am, when Jonny’s asleep or with Daddy I have to turn that time into quality time with the kids.

In my online search for solutions, I found several tips for coping with this very common syndrome and how to give children the reassurance they need.

1.  Allow your older children times when they can be a “baby”.  For families with very young children {2 years old}, it’s harder for parents to expect the older children to be “baby’s helper”.  Afterall, this older child is still a baby as well.  It’s important to snuggle the now big brother/sister like you used to when he/she was the baby.

2.  Reinforce good behavior.  Everyone likes to be affirmed when they’re doing something good.  We like it even more when someone else is told how great we are.  When caring for the newborn in earshot of older children, tell the newborn how thankful you are that he has a great older brother to help take care of him.  The older sibling will hear this and feel good about himself and the baby.

3.  Talk about it.  I was surprised to see there are a number of children’s books that deal with newborn baby jealousy.  Angelina’s Baby Sister by Helen Craig is a book about a girl who is excited about the arrival of her little sister but quickly becomes jealous once the new baby begins receiving all of the attention.  There is a House Inside My Mummy by Giles Andreae and I guess the title is self-explanatory.

4.  Recruit the extended family.  Grandparents love nothing more than to love on their grandchildren.  This is the perfect time to plan some special bonding time with the grandparents and older siblings.

5.  Introducing baby.  When the siblings first meet the new baby, try allowing someone else to hold the baby or placing him in a crib so that when you make introductions you can hug and cuddle the older siblings at the same time, reassuring them that you still have time for them.

6.  Picture time. It’s inevitable that you’ll want to snap as many baby pictures as you can.  Try making sure the siblings are in as many of those pictures as you can.

One thing I know for sure is no matter how many blog posts I read, books I scan or advice I receive, nothing beats prayer and hearing from God.  In every challenge I have, I trust that God will work it out sooner or later.  In the meantime, I’m exercising my God-given wisdom and learning as much as I can about this issue.  Anyone struggling with this challenge, I encourage you to take it to God.

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4 thoughts on “MOMMY 101: Coping with New Baby Jealousy

  1. When I was at this stage of the game there’s one incident that stuck out to me: when a well wisher came by to see the baby she bought a gift for the siblings as well. It was such a little thing but it made a huge difference and made me realize that in the early stages the older ones could feel left out.
    As it relates to jealousy I expected it but was pleasantly surprised. The older one who was all of 2 at that time tried to help me take care of the baby at the time. I reinforced this behavior.

    Sometimes just being aware makes all the difference in the world.

    Nylse/andree

  2. Your post touched my heart! I met my husband when my son was 4 years old, and my husband, being the wonderful man that he is, adopted him, and it was a match-made in heaven. Then, 2 years later, we had a baby boy (2010), Big time jealousy struggle for our oldest who was 6 years old at the time! Of course, he could not have our undivided attention anymore, and my husband and I were still trying to make one-on-one time with him, it got better when the baby grew up and was not too needy and started to play with him. Then, a year later (2011), another baby boy, we went through it again! Then, 2 years later (2013), another baby boy! lol So, my oldest son feels jealous sometimes because he feels like we may be too hard on him, but we had to tell him over and over again that he is 10 years old now, and he has chores and responsibilities that his brothers will have when they are older. And he is particularly feels jealous of the 3 rd one who is 3 and has such a bubbly personality. He always wants to be around me and helps me so much with the baby. Like someone said, you can love all your children, but you have to raise them differently at times, based on their personality, age, etc. I have cried a few times after he would tell me that he doesn’t feel as loved as my other son. I felt like the worst mom ever, and that I could never do enough to reassure him! Then, I realized that he needs to know and accept first how much God loves him. If he realizes how precious and valuable he is in the eyes of God, he will truly believe our love and be more secure in himself all his life. So, as you said, it is a constant struggle to show love and undivided attention to many children at once. And it is so crucial to know our kids as individuals and speak their “love language” to really connect to them on a deeper level. And as there is no perfect parent, we have to rely on God for wisdom and discernment and constantly calling our kids’ names to our Father because He loves them much more than we do, and His love is perfect and unconditional. But, I quit walking around feeling guilty because he may think I do not love him as much. It gets to a point where we have to tell them, when you are grown and have a few kids, you will understand….that you will be too tired physically and emotionally sometimes to give undivided attention to them, that sometimes, the whole home will be on survival mode based on the busyness of our society with school, extracurricular activities, cooking cleaning, work, church etc.
    Anyways, hang in there, and know that you are doing your best with God’s help. There are so much things they can only really comprehend after they get on their own with real life problems and become parents themselves. I know I had much more respect and admiration for my mom after I became a mom because I understood that everything she was doing was out of love to protect me from the heartache of this world. I still made my own mistakes, but this is when the redemption provided by our Lord Jesus comes into play. And we keep moving forward with Him and thank Him for where He has taken us from, and for the grace to instill His love in our own children.

    1. I love hearing from women who have walked the walk. Thank you for all of these wise reminders. Making sure my children really understand that they are loved by God is key. And understanding their love language is as well. Thank you!

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