Ask the Expert: Sibling Struggles
How to respond when an older sibling expresses violent thoughts about a new baby.
My 4 year old son told me about a very violent thought he had about
his baby sister (7 weeks) today. I am so scared that I have caused him
problems because I used to be a big screamer and I also spanked him.
Please give advice I'm afraid for my son and his sister. He has never
hurt her but i never leave her alone around him.
Well, that has to be scary. What I love about your story,
though, is that your son came to you and told you about his thought.
That is huge--I cannot overstate how significant. What that signals is
that a) he is aware of himself and his thoughts; b) he doesn't like the
negative thought about his little sister; and most importantly, c) he
trusts you as a confidant and a life-guide, even with revelations that
may incriminate himself.
First of all, please know that negative, even violent feelings
toward a tiny baby sister is very common for an older child. His sister
represents both a wonderful addition to his life, and yet a vacuum for
all the attention he used to enjoy.
It is now up to you to embrace your role as that trusted guide,
choosing to calm your own anxiety and continue to listen. The more he
can open to you about such feelings, the less he feels compelled to act
upon them. It sounds like the very best thing you can do is go out of
your way to spend more alone time with him. Try not to have any agenda
for that time except to delight in your son.
I know that sounds difficult given his recent revelations, but
it's always more important to keep the revelations coming than to react
to their content.
And remember to take care of yourself,