When I was pregnant with my third child, I was very worried that my younger son would be violent towards his little sister when she was born. My boys tend to fight quite often but since they are boys, I typically let them rough it out so long none of them get too aggressive. But with a baby girl coming along, I was worried that my younger son may not be able to control himself that well, and also be rough with the sister as he is with his older brother.
The day I brought my baby daughter home, my younger son came to us and exclaimed, "Oh! It's a baby!" and then scuttled off to resume his play time. He hardly paid any attention to the new member of the family and kept a distance while watching me cradle the baby in my arms. He seemed to be assessing the little bundle and wondered what he could do with or to her. My 4-year-old, on the other hand, was all excited and kept asking to carry his baby sister.
The big brother carrying his baby sister so lovingly.
My younger son looking pained to have his baby sister lean on him.
I tried to engage my younger son with his baby sister but, more often than not, he seemed more fearful than pleased to be in contact with her. I was amused by his reaction but also thankful that my worst fears didn't come true. It is certainly safer if my younger son decides to keep his distance from the baby, rather than exhibit jealousy or violence towards her.
As the baby grew, my younger son also learned by observing how his older brother treated the baby. Perhaps he saw that the baby was no longer as fragile and had become more interactive, so he started showing more interest in her as well. He enjoyed watching her in the crib, covering her legs with the blanket, touching her hands and feet and gently patting her tummy.
It is a big lesson for toddlers to learn to be gentle. It is not that they are incapable of that. It is because they are easily excitable and they might not realize that despite their small size, they are capable of being too forceful on someone even smaller than them.
Just as how adults grow and mature to another level as they become parents, toddlers mature faster when they accept their new role as an older sibling. It takes maturity and heightened awareness for the toddler to learn to exert self-control and be intentionally gentle when interacting with a baby.
From being the baby of the family to getting promoted to a big brother, my younger son grew and rose up to the occasion, slowly but surely. He has learned that he, too, is capable of being gentle and helping to care for his little sister. You would indeed be surprised at how much your love and gentleness your toddler is actually capable of showering upon their baby sibling.
Xuan W. Lee became a mother of three by the age of 30. After becoming pregnant with her third baby, she was determined to find ways to work from home while being the main caregiver for her young children. She was inspired and motivated to be a Mumpreneur and discovered that she could put her passion to work! She rekindled her love for writing and with a heart for all her fellow mummies, she has taken to documenting her motherhood journey which also serves as a source of encouragement and inspiration to other mummies.
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