One of the most frequent conversations I have with parents goes a little like this………………………..
Parent: My toddler has started to ——————- towards my baby.
Insert type of aggression: push, pull, throw, hit, slap, bite, pinch.
Me: When did this begin?
Parent: I think it started a few weeks ago when they baby started —————-.
Insert Milestone: sitting, crawling, weaning, talking, standing, walking
Me: When does it happen?
Parent: Normally, when I’m there, it definitely feels like its for my attentionf ollowed by; But I make sure they don’t feel displaced by baby and/or, But I give them loads of one to one and/or, But they love their brother/sister so much.
I always feel such empathy with these Mums telling me these stories not because I’m a behaviour specialist who has all the answers because, well I don’t always have all the answers! I feel so empathetic and connected sometimes even invested because I’m right in the thick of this too! I’m there on the same battle line with you every day trying to balance Billy and Ned. Trying to interrupt Ned’s behaviour and hoping I’m reacting the right way. Hope I’m not showing him the wrong way to navigate this next phase.
I’m far more confident when its someone else’s child because I can see it all so clearly. Its crystal clear what the problem is and what the solution is. Why? because the baby isn’t mine and toddler isn’t mine. For all of us including myself it’s good to bounce these situations off someone else. listen to what it sounds like coming out of your own mouth. Hear it and think about it. Above all most often than not if you share what your struggling with you’ll realise the people around you are all struggling with some element of parenting too. There is great comfort in that alone. There’s great comfort in knowing the perceived super woman is human too. Always reach out and always share, it will always help!
With that said the first pieces of practical advice I give are;
- Accept, don’t dismiss the toddlers feeling for the baby however negative they may seem.
- Stay ahead of down time. During these aggressive phases keep different activities lined up and ready to go. Unfortunately during this phase boredom and down time can often be when the toddler will be idle and wander over an amuse himself with the baby!
- Utilise your high chair, baby swing and playpen for baby. Don’t be afraid to make house rules around these areas and remain consistent on house rules.
- Utliise your high chair and playpen for toddler. Why not ask the toddler if he wants his turn in the playpen for books, make a fort, tv time and even something constructive they don’t want the baby wrecking on them.
- Be prepared for change around baby’s milestones. Sitting, clapping, weaning, crawling, talking, standing, walking are all huge milestones for all the members of the family not just Mum and baby. Sometimes just knowing this is normal, this happens, its ok,, can help us as parents react and respond all the better.
- Don’t pile on the pressure of being “The Big” brother/sister. Parents and extended family in particular tend to talk to toddlers allot about the responsibility and onus of now being “The Big”. Assuming its a good thing assuming its a positive thing, assuming its something this toddler has always wanted. My advice remove the pressure to be “The Big” let them be toddlers and let them just be. Some children thrive and love the responsibility of ” The Big” but others don’t,that’s ok. Toddlers were babies themselves only yesterday after all so assess the right direction for your house to take on “The Big” and get everyone including extended on the same page.
Don’t be afraid to contact me don’t be afraid to look for support.