Handling The Jealous Sibling, While Parenting Twins. (Stepping Inside Their World. Some Things You Can Try!)
Handling Jealous Siblings, With Two New Babies At Home!
7 mo. 1.5 wks. Old.
Ok, this is a topic that comes up a lot in my posts, because I am dealing with it so strongly, in my own home, and have been, for over 7 months now, so it’s very fresh, and real, and I want to discuss it a bit more. Bringing home 2 babies, can be overwhelming to an older sibling.
We will talk about, your child’s new behaviors, coping mechanisms, the real way your child feels, though they may not say it, plus ways for you to manage your child, and your own sanity, though this difficult time. There are certain things you should say, and ways you should act. We all share a common goal.
I’d say who am I to talk, I’m still going through this, but it could be a million times worse, and I do believe I am doing everything 150% ‘Right, and ‘By the book’, as far as the topic is concerned, it’s just that every child is different, and it’s harder on some then on others, and some children take longer to adjust, to this brand new way of life. You need to be sensitive to your individual child’s needs.
Some bounce back fast, other’s don’t, but we’ll ALL eventually get there, with persistence, patience, and a lot of inner strength. I don’t think there are many, if any, things harder in life, then watching your child hurt. Let me help see you through, and vise-versa!
#1) ENCOURAGE, your child to be open and honest with you.
Tell them, to tell you exactly how they feel, at the time that they are feeling it. Even if you know at one moment they are feeling low, because you can clearly see it, they don’t usually realize that! They need to know that they can come to you at any time, for any thing, and express their emotions, openly and honestly, and know that you will always hear them, and take fast action, to try and reverse the negative emotions, going on inside of them.
They need to know you will always have time for THEM still, and they can feel comfortable and confident, in telling you exactly how they feel, at any given time. Open communication is key with your kids, from as young as a toddler through to adulthood!
My daughter, and she says it frequently, has been encouraged to express herself, and will say, ‘I feel left out!, and I told her to make me aware of this feeling, in case I am really busy, and maybe not noticing it, or what have you. When I hear that, I give her all of myself, no matter what is going on around me, and I acknowledge those feelings, for that moment, because it’s so hard especially when alone to manage everybody all on your own, but I take a moment out, and explain to her, how much she is loved, and give her a big hug, and assure her in a little while, after I feed the babies and get them to bed, I will spend some quality time, with my 1st, most precious princess.
(Say what you need to say at this time, though we all know we love our kids equally, the babies won’t know, and it does help, to make your child feel MOST important of all.) She can only understand to a certain point, some of the things I tell her, but ‘I love you’, and ‘You are special’, and ‘Don’t feel left out, we love you so very much.’ ‘ I am here for you, I know it’s crazy here lately, but this won’t last forever’, etc., those are things your little one, will always understand.
#2) Taking care of infants needs, is not ‘FUN’!
Let your child know…’You know, I’d much rather be playing ball with you, then tending to the demands of feeding, burping, and changing babies. Make a face like, I gotto do, what I gotto do. I pretend like ugh, diapers are icky, and Oh, another bottle, another feeding, what a chore, and look over at her, and she realizes ‘Ok, mom is holding the baby and feeding her, or them, because she needs to do it, much like homework. She’s not having a great time, and would rather be playing with me. ‘
It’s hard because you are watching how you act, and what you say to your adoring new babies, as to not hurt your other child, especially as the babes grow, and become more aware of you, and you just wanna eat them up so badly, it becomes MORE hard, then when they don’t require that, during the ‘sleep and eat’ newborn period. Just as we were making some serious headway on the ‘J’ topic, BOOM, the babies became more like real, tiny people, required, songs sang, faces made, and much more mommy/child interaction, and the jealousy picked up again, full throttle.
It’s VERY hard for me, but I watch myself when she is around, and what I say, songs I sing will be altered, certain words etc., and I’ll invite her to sing with me, and then I completely mush ’em up, when she isn’t around. It’s impossibly hard, but I try and remember, it’s also impossibly hard for her to. My kids lives have been shaken, adding 2 new babies to our home! Better off in the long run are they? YES, but no child can see that at the moment, so keep yourself together, and remember….TAKING CARE OF INFANT’S BASIC NEEDS IS NOT FUN!! It’s something we did for them, in order for them to be able to grow into who they are today, and our mom’s did it for us to…They had to!
Playing with the big kids, IS FUN. Let him or her know this. This definately does help:)
#3) Being little is NOT better!
My daughter commonly has said, ‘I want to be little’, and I’ll say in return ‘Why?’, and she will say ‘Because people think the babies are so cute.’ I love to remind her, how when our lab was a puppy, how adorable she thought she was, and was totally in love with her.
Now, she doesn’t play with that grown up puppy anymore, who is by far bigger then she is, but if she sees another baby lab she will go, ‘Oh she’s so cute, Can I have one’, ‘BUT YOU DO HAVE ONE ALREADY!!’ I have to remind her, that everybody, herself included, find things that are really small, to be what we all describe as ‘Cute’. People are drawn to things that are small, and may find them adorable, while they are, but everything, and every ONE, grows, and won’t be small for long.
Everything small must grow, and now she is no longer cutesy-whootsie, she is beautiful, amazing, smart, gorgeous, etc etc. Isn’t all of that better? Plus, she considers even small dogs that are what some would deem ugly, as ‘Cute’, simply because of their size, so I tell her, people aren’t saying that because the twins truly are so adorable, but simply cause they are so tiny still. They will grow, just like we have. I also said to her, when was the last time someone called mommy cute? I’m not upset about it:)
I remind her that people call her beautiful all of the time, and she will say, well, not as much as they get called cute, and that is something your child realizes. When people even DO take notice of your older child and comment, it usually is AFTER they have doted on the babies, which I wish we could tell the world, please notice my big kid first, but unfortunately we cannot.
I even ‘Try’ to hint to strangers that stop us, to say something to her first, and to try and limit the ‘Baby talk’, towards the twins, because I know it hurts her, and at her age, she isn’t wise to what I’m doing there behind her back, trying to skillfully, nonchalantly, explain this to people. You have to be aware of your child’s feelings, at the time they are happening, and try and repair the current issue, one battle at a time.
If a child feels like you aren’t taking notice of them, and all your attention is elsewhere, they will lash out, and this happens at times here, because there are times where you have to feed two babies and answer the phone, and take a potty break yourself, often with a baby on your lap, and answer the door, and all at once, and you may miss the boat a time or two, and acting out is normal, and it doesn’t mean there is anything wrong with your child, they are just hurting, so try to NOT get angry. These things are normal.
Things you may notice:
A) Obvious anger spells towards you & possibly even the babies.
Even saying some downright scary things, where you worry about the safety of your babies, which is the worst feeling in the world, but does happen to other people, so don’t feel alone in this.
B) An obvious change in the child’s overall personality, postpartum.
Usually the change is NOT for the better. They may become more shy and withdrawn, or rambunctious, and quite the opposite. Every child’s reactions are unique, and cannot be predicted.
C) Suddenly not listening to you,
and even getting a bit of back talk, you aren’t used to hearing. A seemingly new, ‘Attitude problem’.
D) Defacing something of the babies.
This is a perfect example. At the time I was a bit ticked to myself about this, and thinking, my child was always a smart and mature child for her age, why is she acting now like a 2 yr old. She’s not, she’s acting like a hurting child, of any age. It’s just lashing out.
I know it’s easy to want to snap, when you see something you bought with your hard earned money get defaced, but getting angry and yelling doesn’t help things, though is easy to do, try desperately not to, it’s a cry for help, and for attention. They aren’t trying to upset you, just make you notice them.
Recognize why your child is doing this, which is the jealousy, and take the opportunity to talk to your child. Don’t ask them what is wrong, tell them…’I know why you did that. You are feeling jealous, but you don’t have to.’ I tell my daughter all of the time, how I begged my mom to have a baby, so that I could have a baby sister, and I never got my wish, and how very lucky she is to have two sisters.
Long term she will know it, but I remind her as much as I can, even though she can’t see it now. Don’t ignore your child over the outbursts or sad spells, and don’t punish your child for them, though it may seem like the thing to do at the time, it isn’t. Listen, and talk to them. All they are wanting, is their mommy back!
E) Regressing back to baby hood.
This can be particularly heartbreaking and maddening at times, for a parent to deal with. Maybe you just finished potty training your child, 6 months ago, and suddenly the new additions come, and it seems like it was all a waste. They start wetting themselves again, or older kids, may start acting like a baby, I know my daughter sometimes switches her voice to a baby voice, and she never once did this before the twins birth, and the voice, it gets on my nerves, honestly, but she doesn’t know it, I see it as a sign of her jealousy and I quickly say, ‘I don’t like Mikayla the baby. I love Mikayla the big girl, the princess. She is much more fun. Who wants to be a baby?’
I even made up a song that I will sing if I see her fighting to win back her own baby-hood.
A baby can’t walk..no a baby can not walk,
A baby can’t dance, no a baby can not dance,
A baby Can’t talk, all a baby does is WAHHHHHH!!
(and I’ll rub my eyes and pretend to cry, boo hoo hoo). This makes her laugh, and she will sing along.
The twins are young, so this doesn’t bother them, it actually entertains them, and makes them smile to, so it’s a benefit to us all.
It’s true though. Remind you child what it is truly like to be a baby. Does he or she even remember being that young? NO. Do you think it’s fun to be back in a sweaty diaper all day, waiting for someone to pick you up, not being able to get around, and do what you feel like doing, just laying around all day? That surely isn’t fun.
Then tell them, ‘I surely wouldn’t want to be a baby again. I wish I were exactly your age. That is the absolute most fun age of all. Just look how many cool thing you can do. Play with your friends, go swimming, play soccer, take your dance lessons, etc etc. Now that is FUN!’
Plus, look at what a baby has to eat, I always tell her. Would you rather have THAT stuff, or chicken, pasta, and pizza? Surely she will answer the latter. These are a few things you can try with your own child, if they put on the baby talk, or start crying like a baby, or acting out, as if they are mimicking the life of a newborn, as if wanting to become one. This is something they will clearly be able to understand. New babies are helpless, and are not having any fun, so why would you want to give up your fun life to go back to THAT?
#4) Acknowledge your big kid FIRST!
(Ask family & friends to please do the same, with strangers it’s harder).
Say you just got home from work, or you just woke up and walked downstairs, hubby’s got a pot of coffee on, what do you do when you see your kids (Mine are always asleep when I wake up, but it’s just an example scenario, you know what I am saying, there are a thousand of them).
Go to your jealous, bigger child first, hug and kiss them, and flash them a smile, before running to the babies. Sometimes if the babies are screaming, and need your immediate attention, it becomes a very hard situation, but even if it’s 10 seconds of your time, fight with yourself to allow the babies to cry for just a moment, while you give your all FIRST, to your big kid, and big kids know what being FIRST means, very well, and it matters to them, not to the babies, so don’t feel guilty about it. It really matters more to your child then you know.
#5) Get out with your child ALONE!
Once in awhile, just like you must make time for you and your husband on occasion, to keep the romantic part of your marriage going, you need to keep the relationships that evolved before your newborns came, with your other child or children, going as well. Occasionally, I will go to a movie or the park with just my daughter alone. Attend a game and then take my son out for dinner ALONE, with only him. Even teenagers, need their moms to, though they certainly aren’t as jealous as your young one will be, but you got to fight to spread yourself around, because you are MOM. Everybody needs you.
Bigger kids will handle things easier. They have friends, and full days of school, sports, and other things to keep them busy. Chances are YOU were the numero uno in your little one’s life, before the babies’ birth, so to lose that is like losing part of that best friend, mom, sister, everything combined, so take notice, and take time out to say, ‘Ok where do you want to go today’, and give that child a voice. Let them know they are very important to your family.
Get your husband, mom, sister, brother, someone to watch the babies from time to time, so you can make time out, for your jealous sibling, and all siblings honestly. You got to keep all relationships going and ALIVE, in your household which takes a ton of work and juggling, and at times can feel impossible, but it is not impossible and is extremely important.
I say if you just have twins, you have it really easy. I believe even having triplets would be easier, because as demanding as my twins have gotten, I find Mikayla’s end of things, the absolute #1 hardest part of the whole deal, and I feel very sad for her, and I have cried over it, but long term, she will be happy to have them, it’s just a really hard situation to deal with.
#6) Involve your child with the new babies
Sometimes children really do want to help out, even if they aren’t showing the signs that they are, in any way, shape, or form, interested in doing so. Offer them the option to help, but never force them. They might just surprise you, when you give them the offer.
Say, ‘Sweetie would you please get mommy a diaper? That would be a REALLY big help!’ If they do as you asked, give them praise, saying what a great, big sister, or brother they are, and how lucky the babies are, to have them in their lives. If they are old enough, and you feel you can trust them, you can sit them down, and even let them hold the babies, (One at a time, of course), to make them feel bigger, more responsible, and closer to the new arrivals. Sometimes kids may seem like they are feeling the opposite way, but are really truly eager to be involved, so at least offer to them, that opportunity.
#7) Don’t feel bad for crying for your child.
It does hurt to see your child hurt. You are only human, and can only do what you can, to minimize the hurt they feel, you can’t erase it all, as my blog has shown, so don’t feel like a failure. As said before, for some kids it just takes more time, then for others. You got to be patient with them, and keep yourself together in the process. It won’t last forever, just like every other seemingly impossible situation, you have encountered in your lifetime, that has seemed endless.
#8) If you become frustrated about the situation & need a vent, step away from the situation for a few minutes!
THINK BEFORE YOU SPEAK!
If you find yourself feeling frustrated with everything, which you may, it’s normal. Don’t lash out with your own words, which can be more hurtful then you know. Even if you are just venting about the situation to your husband, your child has eagle ears, they can hear what you say, and words cannot be taken back, so GET OUT, before you say something that can hurt your child, such as, ‘I can’t take this anymore, why won’t they just get over it already.’
‘What is wrong with him or her?’ ‘Why can”t I fix this already?’ ‘Why has my usually sweet child, become such a brat lately’. These things may cross your mind at times, when you forget their side of things, and just feel upset inside, but you can forget you said something stupid, and you didn’t really mean, but they won’t, so please keep it under lock and key.
These things and more, are easy to feel at times and blurt out, but can be very hurtful, so unless you KNOW you are completely alone, and need to talk with your hub one on one, which if you have that luxury, God bless you. Try and vent yourself, in another fashion.
Get your husband to watch the kids for 15 minutes while you take a power walk around the block, go for a quick drive, go outside and call a friend whose been there, for some guidance. Go upstairs away from the craziness, and write your feelings out in a journal, and/or take a hot bath. Anything like that is good, because afterwards, you will see your mind becomes clear again, and you can again face the situation.
Never put your hurting child down, no matter what they say or do, because it’s all for YOUR attention. They aren’t trying to drive you batty. Remember that. It is not their intention to hurt, or to make you crazy. They simply want to be noticed.
I mean with one baby it’s enough of a shock on a child’s system, but having two to contend with, with no close in age sibling to play with, and keep their mind off it every second of the day, is really hard for them. With twins there are times when mommy and daddy are both called away, and are busy, and that is usually the worst moments, where a child will lash out, and you getting frustrated or angry at them, just further makes them feel less important on the totum pole. Take all of your strength to remember what they are going through, and release that anxiety elsewhere.
#9) Get support when needed!
Talking to others in the same situation, or have been there before, can be particularly comforting, and sometimes needed! Whether it’s an online search, that leads you to a community of moms going through the same, or a friend or family member that can relate, and is willing to talk with you, from their own experience.
Talking is a VERY positive way of getting your feelings out, and if someone else has been there, you can take immense comfort, in them relating to your current family situation. You are human, no one can be super woman, all of the time! It’s ok, to need some help and re-assurance.
#10) Remember you are an amazing mother!
Don’t feel like it is your fault, don’t feel like you did your child a disservice, don’t feel like you are a bad mom, for not being able to appease everybody, all of the time, and you are to blame for your child’s hurt. That is all absolute bupkis! (However, normal feelings to have).
Whether a planned or unplanned pregnancy, your twins ARE a blessing to your household, and to each and every person in it. (Jealous siblings included). Remembering, ‘This to, shall pass’, and that this is only temporary, will help you get through.
You are an amazing mommy to care enough to read this article to help your child. In years to come, these children you have brought into this world, will be laughing, playing, and loving one another, and you will feel so happy and proud. Don’t lose yourself in guilt, and sadness.
Be there for your child, understand their behavior, help them through it, and always remember, how very wonderful, loved, and adored, you must be, to have a child be so jealous of you sharing your time. You must be one incredible lady!
Just know, in the end, the jealousy will diminish, as time passes, minds and bodies grow, independence broadens, and life with new babies becomes more normal to them. Be empathetic, and very patient, and time and God, will see you through, this gut wrenching battle. I sware us moms, we really do deserve a medal:)
Hang in there, and if you ever need a friend who ‘Gets it’, feel free to email me at any time. I’m here for you. I may take a few days to get back, due to he amount of email I get, but I always WILL get back to you. Helping others has always been my passion, so I’m always eager to do so.
Take care, and God bless!