Maudlin and Associates ™
Karen Maudlin
Psy.D., CPCC
Kenneth Davison
Cindy Takiguchi
Manette Galván Turner
Robert Gregory
Daniel Doebler
Trevor Simpson

"We have an 8-month-old girl and a 5-year-old son. When the baby was born, our son was pretty indifferent to the baby, but now, he often shows outright hatred toward her. He's never hurt her, but he says he wishes we never had her or that I should throw her in the garbage. I expected him to have some trouble adjusting, but I thought he'd be over it by now. How should I handle his comments, and how can I help him learn to love his sister?"

A. Your son is beginning to understand that this is a permanent arrangement. On top of that, your baby's increasing mobility is likely bringing out your son's territorial instincts. Even the most doting older sibling can become a tyrant when he realizes that this baby is staying forever, and now can move and get into his stuff.

You wouldn't let your son say mean things about other people, so it's important to correct his comments about his sister. You could say something like, "I wonder if you're upset with Becca because taking care of her takes so much of my time. It's okay for you to feel upset about having less time with me. I miss it, too." Listen patiently to any feelings he shares, and let him know he can always talk to you when he's angry or frustrated.

Give him small tasks to help out such as fetching a clean diaper or helping feed the baby, and emphasize how glad you are to have such a wonderful helper. You can even grant him a few "big boy" privileges such as staying up for a little family time after the baby is in bed or some one-on-one time with you.

It is also a great time to give him some small chores or start an allowance program. Telling him, "You are old enough now for an allowance. It's for big boys, not for babies, right?" might spur him on to enjoy his position in the family in a new way.