Our second baby was born only a few weeks before the pandemic began.
I know my older son loves his baby brother, but I’m fearful that in addition to dealing with the huge adjustment of having a baby in the house, he associates his brother’s arrival with the negativity of the pandemic.
My son is a strong-willed, opinionated child, and these events have understandably been stressful for him.
How can I be there for him and help him separate these two big life changes?
Bad Timing, My heart goes out to you. It sounds like your older son has a lot on his plate right now. I commend you for taking a step back to empathize with him during what must be a challenging time for your whole family.
When you have more than one child, you open up a new world of twice the joy. . . and twice the challenges. As supportive parents, all we want is for our children to get along, but older kids can have a difficult time adjusting to sharing attention and affection with a new sibling. This adjustment period is perfectly normal, and in your case it’s compounded by a couple of other factors.
First, your older son is a strong-willed, autonomous child. Autonomous children, by nature, are at high risk of attracting their parents’ disapproval. When your son acts out, he solicits negative attention, which can make him feel like you’re favoring his younger brother over him. It’s a self-fulfilling prophecy.
To make matters even worse, your older son’s whole world was upended by the pandemic shortly after his baby brother came home. In addition to adjusting to the normal shifts in routine brought about by having a new baby around, he also had to adjust to the stress of COVID-19.
So, how can you solve these problems together?
The first step is to recognize the unmet need that is causing this tension inside your older son. You said he loves his brother, which is wonderful, but he probably still needs reassurance that his parents love him just the same even though there’s a new baby at home.
Once you can help him understand that he didn’t lose anything when he gained a brother, he’ll have an easier time viewing the situation in a positive light and separating it from the negativity of the pandemic.
Here are some parenting tips that can help you support him during this adjustment period:
Bad Timing, you can be grateful that your strong-willed son is letting you know that he needs some reassurance right now. His willingness to express his negative emotions signals that your relationship is already strong.
Love and Blessings,
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A 3xTEDx speaker, media contributor, parenting coach, and a mom of two - helping families thrive by using the Guidance Approach to Parenting.