New Baby and Toddlers- How to Keep Your Sanity
We’ve heard the story before. Parents give birth to an amazing boy or girl that is their entire world for the first two years of the child’s life. Then suddenly a new baby comes and the delightful 2-2 ½ year old begins acting out in ways never expected or seen before. While there are a couple of different things that could be causing the older child to act out, our guess is that is has to do with the family changes.
The birth of a younger sibling can be upsetting and traumatic for toddlers. Some worry about mom being in the hospital, or get scared with adults other than mom or dad staying at their house overnight while the parents are with the new baby at the hospital. When the new baby comes home, many toddlers hate sharing attention from parents- especially when they had 100% of it before. Enter: meltdowns and tantrums.
Although it is very common for toddlers to begin acting out and misbehaving when a new baby is born, it does not mean that parents must just suffer through it or be at the mercy of a 2yr old. While there are times when it’s just not worth it to fight certain battles (we’ve all been there!), consistency with limit setting and structure is important. Children feel safe and secure when certain structures are in place, and this ultimately leads to the toddler being better able to self-regulate and gain independence.
Many of the child’s misbehaving stems from the split attention from parents, and toddlers often view the new baby as competition at first. We have found that a few simple changes can alleviate some of the misbehaving by giving the child what he or she so desperately needs: one on one, undivided attention from you.
Sometimes changes as simple as making bath time special between mom and child (or dad and child), setting aside 20 minutes of one on one play time with one parent and the child, or parent and child activities together away from the home that are special. The key is consistency, predictability, and repeated positive experiences between child and parent. If the child perceives that they are special, loved, and getting the attention they need, the misbehaviors will likely dissolve.
Get creative! Find something fun for your older child and you to have special one on one time. A big bonus if you can use the time when they most often misbehave and turn that time into a positive connection!
Having trouble knowing where to start, or believe your situation is different and needs more guidance? Call our office and get set up to meet with a therapist for one of our supportive parent consultation appointments (469) 665-9416 or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org