We are so thrilled to bring home our new baby, but we are concerned about jealousy from our oldest child. Can jealousy really be prevented? How?
A: This is a question that concerns most parents. Here are some ideas to smooth the path for your growing family. Involve your older child in baby-care activities. Ask him to toss the baby’s soiled clothing into the hamper. Let him choose which outfit the baby will wear. Just as a parent’s giving to his child bonds the two, the more an older child gives to the baby, the more he will love him. If the baby smiles, we could say, “Look, he’s smiling at you. He loves you!”
Perhaps, buy a gift for the child and tell him we’re sure the baby would have asked to give it to him because he loves his big brother. These small things help create a special connection between the siblings at the very outset of their relationship.
This is comparable to what G-d told the angels, “Let us make man.” He included them in the project, so that they would not be jealous of man. From here, we learn to do the same with siblings. Words can have a powerful effect. The child will internalize what we say and feel that the baby really cares about him.
Avoid insensitive comments to the older child and what we tell others. It is not a good idea to continuously tell everyone how jealous the older child is. He may hear such descriptions, internalize them and then act upon this description. Instead, describe to the caller, loudly, what a help the “big one” is and how much he loves his new baby. Then the older sibling will act on this description!