Breaking the news of a sibling’s arrival to a two- to three-year-old can be easy, but also frustrating. Parents ask ourselves questions such as: When and how to tell them so that they understand and do not feel dethroned? What to do to avoid jealousy of the baby? Knowing the answers will be very useful to us as parents, keeping in mind that not everyone will react in the same way, and that other children may be excited at the idea of being older siblings until the baby is born and see that their parents now not only they pay attention to him but to his younger brother or sister.
Although the child hears that nothing will change with the arrival of the brother and that mom and dad will continue to love him the same, his fear of the unknown, of this total reorganization of the family causes jealousy. It is a natural reaction to a situation of loss of power, attention and love. Parents may emphasize that this will not happen but the children do not understand the situation.
Jealousy is neither as severe nor as long-lasting as parents think. It is the way the little one has to express their feelings about the changes, and the usual thing is that they disappear when they get used to them. But for now, he thinks that this intruder has come to replace him. This feeling is normal and necessary: a child who does not express any kind of jealousy, however small, may be hiding some other problem.
The child will go through three stages before welcoming his new brother:
• Protest: It is the initial stage. The little one will use everything at hand to regain that parental attention that was previously obtained without any effort.
• Despair. In the absence of an answer to his demands (his brother is still at home) he becomes desperate and may show some anxiety.
• Adaptation. Finally, the little one is resigned and little by little he gets used to the new situation.
Although it is a transitory situation, the truth is that jealousy can lead more than one parent. Handling them well will help the child adapt better and faster to the new situation.
• It is essential not to ridicule the child’s feelings so as not to make him feel that we no longer care about his things. For him there are many changes soon, you have to give him time to assimilate them.
• His routines should be kept as much as possible: read him a bedtime story or go out to the park on Saturday morning if that was what he had been doing before the brother’s arrival.
• It will be good to ignore your misbehaviors (not reward those wake-up calls with our concern or anger) and praise your behavior when you help us with your younger brother’s care tasks.
• You have to make time to dedicate it exclusively (singing a song while running errands doesn’t count).