How to Help Older Children Adjust When the New Baby Becomes a Toddler

When a second or third child becomes a toddler, it often results in difficulties for the entire family. Experts note it is a particularly difficult time for older brothers or sisters and, the good news is, there are ways for parents to help the older children during this tough time.

Parents must remember that while an older child or children were excited, and even helpful, when you brought a new infant home, they also had to adjust to having less of your attention. As that infant becomes a toddler, older siblings suddenly have less patience as that toddler invades their “space” and even finds and takes their possessions.

If your older child is also a toddler, the rivalry may be quite pronounced. It is normal for the older toddler to be self-centered and want her parents’ attention. As the older toddler does not have the ability to reason yet, she will find it very difficult to cope with sharing her parents with her younger sybling. Indeed, there will be many times when the older toddler insists on being the baby and will not wait her turn.

Some parents have had success by creating off-limit rules to protect the older children’s privacy. Also, these parents set aside time just for the older children. For no matter what age they are, they need you as much as the toddler does.

Other practical advice includes the importance of being realistic. A mother or father simply cannot provide all the attention your children may need at the same time. A spouse, aunt or uncle must be available to help. Parents also have found relief by arranging for the younger toddler to have a play date or go to the park with friends so the siblings have a chance to have an occasional break from each other.

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