What to do when the older sibling hates the new baby..?
I have a newborn baby and a 5-year-old and my older son is violent and resents his brother. It feels like he hateshis little brother! I would like my kids to grow up and be close. How can I enforce this?
What shall I do to make them bond?
How To Help Older Sibling When New Baby Arrives
Sibling Hates the New Baby – What’s Wrong?
Basically, you can’t force your kids to be close. Forcing in itself is not about loving and caring, so the best thing you can do with your five-year-old is to help him to feel loved and special.
When we come home with a new baby, all the attention suddenly shifts to the new arrival, and the older child is supposed to just accept it happily and even welcome it.
People come with presents for the baby, everyone admires baby, everyone cuddles baby. It is no wonder your son is struggling to adjust.
If you think about it, your son has had you to himself for five years and suddenly it seems to him that you have taken your love away and all your attention is going to the new baby. He is learning that to get your attention, even if it is negative attention, he has to do something drastic like hurting the baby.
The behavior doesn’t mean that the sibling hates the new baby as a person. But he or she may hate the new situation.
How to Help Siblings Bond
Here are things you can consider doing to improve the situation:
- You need to change the focus from telling him off to finding all the things your 5-year-old is good at, or all the ways he is behaving well. Punishments and telling him off will just reinforce his feelings of not being loved. So if you start to give him positive attention, he will no longer need to behave badly.
- It is important that he is not allowed to hurt the baby, but it is also important that he has some time to say how he feels. Letting him say that he hates the baby is fine, he has to express it, and in time he will learn to love his new sibling. You’ve had nine months of knowing a new baby was on its way, the concept for your son was just abstract, the reality is much harder to get used to.
- , Of course, you need to keep your baby safe until you can trust your five-year-old has learned how to handle a baby. Teach him how to hold the baby, how to change a nappy, how to talk to baby, how to be gentle, all the time praising him for being such a lovely big brother.
- When you are talking to the baby, tell the baby how lucky he/she is to have such a lovely big brother, all the things baby will learn from having an older brother, and talk about your five-year-old in front of others as special and helpful. Take any opportunity to emphasize the positive things he does and minimize the focus on his bad behavior.
- Try to make some special time with your older son on his own, when the baby is asleep, or when Dad has the new baby, and let him know he is special, he is important, you love him. Make sure you and Dad spend some time each day with him, paying attention to his stories, his questions, and his games. In particular, praise him when he helps with the baby getting nappies or getting you a glass of water. Make him feel important.
- Often the older sibling will hear over and over again “Not now, the baby needs this or the baby needs that”. To balance this, a great trick is to take the opportunity sometimes to tell your newborn (when your older child can hear it) “No, mom can’t carry you right now, because I want to do this or that with your brother”. Preferably do this when your baby is content with being with dad or in the bouncer or something similar. This way, your son will feel that he is the top priority and not the baby.
- Finally, if there are still friends and family yet to pay a visit to see your new baby, ask them to bring a small gift to your son too – for celebrating that he is now a big brother.
The Sibling Relationship Over Time
The sibling relationship will grow as your 5 years old starts to feel loved and secure, and your baby grows up. The older the younger child becomes, the easier it will be to find games they both can enjoy. Even at just a few months old, your 5-year-old can get a lot of love and appreciation from his younger brother, if you help them play together.
Browse our baby development month by month articles here, for ideas on games to initiate where your older son can really interact with his younger brother.
Enjoy and love them both, and emphasize all the lovely special qualities and you can’t go wrong!
I can recommend a wonderful book on the topic; Siblings Without Rivalry. (Link to Amazon in new window) It holds tips and techniques for several years going forward for your children.
Also, if you need a boost and useful tools for effective parenting of your older child (and soon your little one too”), check out the online course “Positive Parenting”. It is a very helpful resource.
Feel free to share your thoughts, experiences or tips by adding a comment below. Have you experienced that the older sibling hates the new baby too?