We had 2 adorable twins in January. Our older daughter is jealous of them and our life has become a nightmare. How can we address her jealousy and improve our situation?
Just speaking from our experiences:
One step we took when our 2nd daughter was born, was to buy a present from her for her sister.
I know it will be a huge time commitment raising twins, but try to make sure that your 2yo gets her one on one time. Additionally if you can get her to help in looking after the twins, simple things like getting toys for them, putting a dummy back in and so on, and having her hold them (with assistance obviously), all are simple ways to make sure she is still getting attention whilst tending to her siblings.
I actually involved my Daughter in with helping me and my son when he was born. She was always wanting to the "Big Helper". It worked for quite a while until he started to walk and she could not get away from him. After that is was teaching them to play well together.
Depending on the ages you can do different things.
When my first daughter was born, her older bros were 9 and 11. That's far enough apart that I didn't have to do to much. I just told them they were getting a sister and we'd need their help with... stuff. Kids that age pretty much have a cemented personality and know their role in the parents life and here comes another kid.
On the other hand, you may find that the older sibling simply couldn't care less. They might be like "yeah I have a baby sister, she sleeps a lot" and exhibit none of your typical symptoms of the jealous older sibling. Remember that you're not obligated to do any of this stuff. It just depends on your situation. As a parent, you're just as obligated to do nothing with the older kid if they don't need anything extra.
But since kids and families are different, here's some things for a proactive/preventative conversation. For all age kid...
- "Babies require a lot of maintenance" which is code for "we'll be paying a lot of attention to the baby" without using the word "attention" which can set an undesirable expectation. "
- "You're still my/our [kid] and I/we still love you."
- Say something about the baby shower, the seemingly endless stream of baby-gifts and the doting attention from others. "Nobody has forgotten about you, it's just that babies are shiny and new and people act differently around them."
- You might prepare family and visitors by mentioning to not forget little Finn just because baby Marceline is around.
For children, say 4-7, the above is applicable but since they aren't as developed mentally, it will be more of a challenge. I would say that you could enlist their interaction whenever possible so that it's "we have a baby" instead of just the knot of flesh that "took my mommy".
- If the child can read, have them read the bedtime story.
- If they like to sing, have them sing at bathtime... or diaper change, or at feeding, etc.
- Have them be the helper when you're doing those regular maintenance things... getting towels, pulling out butt wipes, breaking down the diaper, etc.
Do this for a while, and watch. Observation, more than anything, will tell you what you need to know about the older kids mood.
And you know what else? Congratulations! As a wise old man once said "You have taken your first step into a larger world."
We have almost exactly two years between our two daughters and we did a bit before the birth (we bought books with stories about new babies) and made sure that she 'knew' (as much as she could) that there was a baby in Mummy's tummy.
Then around the birth we bought her a gift from the baby - and a gift from her to the baby. So for a while after the birth she was keen to make sure the new baby played with the present from her.
And as they get older together, she's certainly the big sister (they even have one or two matching tops which say "big sister" and "little sister") but aside from that we try and treat them similarly as much as we can - same mealtimes, same bedtimes, bath together.
There were moments of jealousy of course, in particular when Mummy was breast-feeding, but we try to mitigate those moments by having her help out and feel involved and also, more generally, making sure that we're giving her some time with us individually by herself. The baby is more time consuming, it will be natural for her to have some jealousy.
I think it's important that you make time for the older child so they don't feel neglected. Do something that just involves her. With my older daughter, I'll take her to the store with me or out for a walk. Just the two of us. While my wife takes my other daughter (2 month old) or vise-versa. It has really helped with the jealousy for us.
We just had our second baby in February and we also have a two year old. It's only been a few months, but he seems to be coping well with having the baby around.
The thing that is really helping us now is we try to keep his daily routine as regular as possible. For example, story times with me in the mornings, lunch together in the afternoons, dinner as a family, bedtime story with dad and so on... Now, when I have to feed the baby, etc. he seems to do fine because he knows that he's going to be able to hang out with mom and dad too.
Sibling rivalry will occur, you say, but I disagree.
Our second child is nearing 2 months now and his 3yo brother has been an absolute angel about it. There has not been a single incident that looked even remotely like jealousy. But we are expecting to see some of that when the little guy starts to grab toys and move around.
I'm not sure if we did anything particularly noteworthy in preparation. We noticed even before the second pregnancy that our first son was always very careful and sweet toward babies. We noticed, and praised him for it.
We borrowed a cardboard-page book with a story of a boy getting a little sister, and we read that often in the latter half of the pregnancy. We talked about big brothers and little brothers, about what newborns are and what they can (not) do compared to the 3yo. When we met friends with babies we used the opportunity to look, touch, and talk about the baby.
After the birth of the second child, the older child is incredibly sweet toward his brother and we regularly, casually, praise him for it and tell him that it makes us and his brother happy (though he can be a brat in other aspects).