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Carlos asked...

I've got a almost 4 year old son and he is suffering a lot with jealousy towards his little 1 year old sister. Through his behaviour and attitude and he is tired and stress and not eating well. He has changed a lot since his sister arrived. What can be done to help?

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The Answer

It is very normal for young children to be jealous of their smaller siblings and I can reassure you that while this can be stressful, you are not alone. Young children often feel that they are overlooked when a new child arrives and will misbehave in order to attract their parent’s attention.

There are some useful techniques you can use to help manage your son’s behaviour; focusing on the positive things he does and re-enforcing these will help him to feel noticed and valued, e.g. praising a picture he has drawn or for tidying his toys well. Setting aside an hour every day that is simply quality time just for him can also help children to feel valued, this could be a time perhaps where his sister is napping, that could be used to read stories together, do puzzles or play games. By giving him this special time he may feel less of a need to misbehave for attention.

Another approach you could try is to give your son his own ‘important jobs’ to do to help with his sister. This will make him feel included and give him a sense of responsibility in his role of ‘big brother’. This should be something simple, such as helping to get things ready at bath time. Using a rewards system can also be helpful to encourage good eating at mealtimes, e.g. a sticker on a chart for every meal he eats well, with a reward after a certain number of stickers.

For further support and advice your health visitor will be able to either recommend local clinics or parenting groups to attend or arrange a home visit to you.

Answered by Health at Hand nurses.


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