How Siblings Should Interact in the First 1-3 Months

In the second month after the birth of your child, even though you've gotten used to the new addition, older siblings may still be in an adjustment period. This is especially true when the newborn is the second child, as the older sibling may feel sad about no longer being the center of the family's attention.

Sometimes, older siblings may express their dissatisfaction by talking back or doing things they know they shouldn't, or they may seek attention by yelling loudly. They may also exhibit "regression" behaviors, such as suddenly wetting the bed or having accidents during the day, even though they've been potty trained for months. They don't understand negative attention; they'd rather be punished for misbehavior than be ignored. However, this can escalate into a vicious cycle—the more attention they get for negative behavior, the more they exhibit it. The best way to break this cycle is to notice and praise the older sibling for positive behaviors. When they play independently or read a book, praise them so that when they seek your attention next time, they will repeat these positive behaviors. Spending some one-on-one time with them each day is also a good strategy for parents. It's important to take specific situations seriously. If the older sibling engages in harmless but attention-seeking behavior (like crying) and you ignore them, they may resort to other methods to get your attention.

However, if the older sibling directs their frustration towards the newborn, such as taking away the baby's bottle or hitting the baby, you need to take more direct measures. Sit down with the older sibling and listen to their complaints, such as "I wish this baby had never come to our house." Assure them of your love but be firm in explaining that they cannot hurt the baby. Encourage them to participate in family activities and interact more with the baby. By involving them in tasks related to the baby, such as fetching diapers, tidying up toys, helping dress the baby, or reminding visitors to wash hands before holding the baby, they'll feel like an important older sibling.

Set clear rules for the older sibling, such as never picking up the baby without permission.

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