How can we prevent the older sibling from “acting like a baby” when their younger sibling is born?

2017.11.16

When a younger sibling is born, the older sibling often begins to act like a baby as well. Many parents become overwhelmed when they must care for their older child, who didn’t need much attention before, as well as their new baby. In this article, we will cover the reason behind this behavior and how parents can prevent it from happening through special parenting techniques.

兄弟が生まれた時、上の子の「赤ちゃん返り」はどう防ぐ?

Why does it happen?

Before a younger sibling is born, mothers often return to their parents’ house and older children become lonely and sad about not being able to spend time with their mother. When the baby is born, and the older sibling finally thinks that he/she can spend time with his/her mother, she ends up spending most of her time with his/her new brother or sister. This makes the older sibling feel that his/her baby brother or sister took his/her mother away from him/her.

As soon as their younger brother or sister is born, the older sibling is told that he/she is now the older sibling and should act like a role model for his younger brother or sister. However, all he/she can think about is how his/her mother doesn’t pay as much attention to him/her as before. To get more attention from his/her parents, the older sibling often acts like their baby brother or sister. How should parents act to prevent their older child from acting this way?

What should parents do/not do when they want their older sibling to act appropriately?

・Parenting habits that cause older children to act like a baby When parents use the following phrases toward the older sibling it often leads to babyish behavior.
“You are now the older brother/sister, right?”
“I am busy taking care of the baby.”

It is important for parents to think about the older sibling’s feelings as well. To a child who is worried about losing his/her mother’s attention, these phrases can hurt their feelings even more and make them feel that they have no one to share their feelings with.

・Parenting habits that prevent older children from acting like a baby
“Thank you for helping me, taking care of a baby is tough and you are really helping me out”

These words show older siblings that you, as a parent, are paying attention to them and their actions so that they do not need to pretend to be a baby to get more attention. The family environment changes for all family members when a new baby is born, and this causes stress not only for the parents but for the older sibling(s) as well. So, it is important that parents praise the older sibling for helping out and holding in their feelings and make them feel like they are an important part of the family as well.

Acting like a baby is often used as a way for older siblings to show their parents that they are frustrated. Parents should be careful not to ignore this sign and let them know that they are important to them as well.

兄弟が生まれた時、上の子の「赤ちゃん返り」はどう防ぐ?
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