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My five year old son won't say he doesn't love the new baby. We try and spend one on one time with him, but it never seems to be enough. The baby is now ten months old and is starting to get into the 5-year-old things which will make things even worse. What can I do?


Sharon Buchalter Replied: Having two children is certainly a challenge- having two children with an age gap of 4+ years can be an even bigger challenge. If you look at it from your older son's point of view, he had you and your spouse to himself for the first 4 years of his life. Now, in comes a new baby who gets a lot of attention from you both, as well as family and friends. All of a sudden, this new baby wants to play with his toys, get in his space, etc. I'm glad you're making an attempt to spend one-on-one time with your son. This is so very important. Even though he may seem all grown up, he is only five years old. So be sure to remind him always that you love him as much as always. Tell him that you understand that he may have feelings of jealousy and that it's OK to feel that way. He may not admit this to you, but that's OK, he still will hear what you have to say and it will sink in with time. It's great to want your children to bond with each other, but don't force it. Allow your older son to warm up to the baby on his own. If it's forced, it can make him resentful. Be sure that your older son has a set of his own toys and items that belong just to him, as well as a personal space to call his own. Continue to plan one-on-one time with him, as well as family time for the four of you. We get so caught up in the minutia of everyday life sometimes, that we forget how to have fun together. Having fun together is a great way to get some family bonding time in. Best of luck to you.
Posted On 2010-06-21 23:47:51
Dr. Vicki Panaccione Replied: Sounds like you are doing a lot of things right. That being said, your son needs to be allowed to have his own feelings. Have you ever been forced to love someone? Can someone else tell you to love? He might NOT love this baby! Why should he? He didn't decide to have this crying nuisance who is now starting to get into his things? He might even hate the baby. There's nothing you can do about how he feels. What you CAN doā€¦is validate his feelings, and understand them from his point of view. Let him tell you how he feels, why he doesn't like the baby (that has never been an option allowed for him!) and then problem-solve together. Let him know that you see he isn't thrilled to have his younger sibling around, and you can understand that getting into his things can really be annoying. You can empathize with him about how hard it might be to have to share mommy and daddy, hear a baby cry so much, watch everyone make a fuss over the littlest things---like burps, spit ups and sitting---which he doesn't get any credit for---in fact he probably gets scolded for burping. This doesn't mean you have to agree with him---you happen to love the baby. All you are doing is recognizing that he may not feel the way that you do, and that he is entitled to his own feelings. Once you do not force him or even expect him to tell the baby he loves him/her things may get better. Inadvertently, right now, you are telling him to say what he may not feel. It's better to teach him to only express affection when it is truly felt. Then, empower him by allowing him not to have to share his things, have space that the baby cannot invade and feelings that may not be so loving. Spend more time recognizing how he feels, rather than telling him how he should feel, and you will be teaching him a very valuable lesson for lifeā€¦long after he stops disliking the baby!
Posted On 2010-06-08 20:39:57
James Crist Replied: It is very hard for kids to deal with new siblings. After all, the older child is used to getting most of your attention, and all of a sudden has to share. It often feels to them as it might feel to a parent whose spouse comes home with a new partner and expects you to love him or her and share your things. Try to validate his feelings and let him know it's okay to be upset about having to share you with the new baby. Explain why the baby needs more time right now, and be sure to set aside special time for you and your son. Include your son in taking care of the baby and be sure to praise him a lot for his help and let him know how much you appreciate it. Provide places for your son to put his things away out of reach of the new baby. Try the resources listed below:
Posted On 2010-06-06 15:45:18
Dr. Tom Greenspon Replied: Young children are keenly sensitive to what we call attachment issues. It is crucial for them to feel secure in their connections to those who matter most to them. Spending one-on-one time with your son, especially doing things he likes to do with you, is an important contribution to his sense of security. At his age, he can also be of assistance with his younger sibling. Let him help out where possible; ask him to participate in various things you do for the one-year-old, and remember to tell him how much you appreciate his help. You can talk with him, too, about the fact that a one-year-old doesn't understand about toys and clothes belonging to someone; if something interests them, they will simply want to touch it or use it. Over time, you and your son can teach the younger one about this together. Meanwhile, you can suggest to your son that if certain things are really important to him, the two of you can arrange for ways to keep them out of the younger child's reach. As time goes on, there will be more things the two children can do together. You can also remind your son from time to time that he has learned lots of things that his younger sibling has yet to learn, and that it can be great to have an older brother to learn from.
Posted On 2010-06-06 11:29:19
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