With the birth of a new baby, a toddler experiences the life-altering experience of becoming an older sibling and not being the youngest in the family anymore. When a child is younger than 3 years of age, a new baby’s birth can be especially difficult, because a 3-year-old lacks the maturity and understanding to deal with this transition, advises the Summit Medical Group. Watch for signs of jealousy in a toddler to resolve these issues.
Ignoring the Baby
Perhaps your toddler decides to deal with the new baby by ignoring him and pretending he is not there, advises the Akron Children’s Hospital website. Avoiding contact with the baby and refusing to acknowledge his presence could indicate that your little one has negative feelings that she does not know how to express. Resist the urge to force your toddler to acknowledge the baby. Instead, allow her to come around on her own time timetable, advises FamilyDoctor.org.
Aggression can be another sign of jealousy, according to Akron Children’s Hospital. Your little one might have anger, sadness, fear and frustration that he does not understand and cannot express, so he acts out aggressively instead. Your toddler may lash out physically toward other siblings, parents, peers and even the baby, trying to hurt others. Never leave your toddler unsupervised with the baby because of the risk of unexpected aggression.
You may also notice increased clinginess in your older child. He may cry more and resist separating from you at bedtime or for day care, if applicable. If your little one used to play alone happily, he may not feel comfortable playing unless he is near you and interacting with you.
A toddler may exhibit jealous feelings by regressing and trying to act like the baby, warns ProMed Physicians. Expect issues such as toilet-training lapses, bedtime battles, asking to breastfeed or for a bottle, using the baby’s pacifier and even asking you to carry her or care for her as you care for the new baby. Regression can occur because the toddler watches how much attention the new baby receives and she decides to imitate the baby’s behaviors.
When you notice signs of jealousy in your toddler, respond with consistent love and discipline. Strive to give your little as much one-on-one attention as possible to help him feel loved and secure. It is also important to accept your little one’s feelings, yet also teach him that it is not acceptable to hurt others. With consistent limits and patience, your toddler will adjust to the new arrival over time.