Has Your Toddler Just Become an ‘Evil Sibling?’


When a second baby arrives, our toddlers suddenly seem so much more mature. We still need to have age-appropriate expectations of their abilities to set everyone up for success.
Baby’€™s arrival can be as frustrating for Big Sibling as it is exciting for others. Big Sib didn’€™t want this new child and is no longer the star of the show. Surely, misbehaviour will bring all the attention that Big Sib needs.

Create a ‘treasure box’ with Big Sib, full of books, blocks, independent activities and shelf-stable snacks. At baby’€™s feeding time, invite Big Sib to grab the treasure box. He can help himself to a snack while baby is eating, then the two of you can read a book together. Giving attention for behaviour we want to see means that Big Sib doesn’€™t have to resort to misbehaviour for attention.

Be realistic about sharing’€”kids this age are egocentric’€”they believe that their point of view is the only one: ‘Everyone knows that I want this toy now. No one else will take it.’ We can introduce/model sharing by:

  • Playing turn-taking games’€”passing a ball, truck or hat to each child for their turn. Kids learn that turns happen in a certain order and come around again and again.
  • Get enough cookies or fruit to ‘€˜share’€™ with everyone in the family and have your little ones share it so that they learn what it feels like to give to others.
  • We don’€™t have to share everything. Let kids have ownership of one or two things which stay on a shelf where Baby Sib can’€™t reach them.

When kids are fighting over a toy, step in and guide children. Express your belief that it can work, ‘I know that you two can find a way to make this work.’ Guiding when they are too young to do it on their own will be the first step in their development as problem-solvers.


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