hi- my daughter is consumed with her 17 month old brother. pretty much any item he has in his hand she takes from him, she wants anything he wants or has. she wants to sit in his carseat, highchair or ride his trike. keywords, when he’s in his carseat, highchair or trike. she’s clearly discouraged, and also calls him a stupid, stupid boy.
Children always have a valid reason for what they do. They act innocently on their own behalf, often without conscious knowledge of the cause, but always for a good reason. Your goal as a parent is to understand your child so you can eliminate the valid cause of her behavior and meet her emotional need.
She may be doubting herself and believing that her brother “ruined her life.” If you tell her to stop grabbing things from his hands, her belief that you don’t love her would only intensify. She then might see you as loving and protecting little angel brother from her, as though she is the “bad one” who you don’t love as much. Such self-image can easily be the cause of aggression.
However, it could also be an innocent play or a need to feel powerful. If you have been careful not to negate her, if you spend one-on-one time with her, protect her things from her brother and prevent her life from being derailed by his existence, then she may be playing a power game without serious emotional issue. Grabbing things to make the baby scream may feel satisfying, specially if she feels helpless and controlled too often. If this is the case, follow the instructions for playing power games provided in my book, Raising Our Children, Raising Ourselves pages 203-6.
If your daughter is acting our of distress and self-doubt, she needs your understanding and compassionate care to her needs. She had a wonderful life and was the center of attention, and now it is all over and she sees her brother as the cause of a colossal calamity of her life. Of course she also loves him and plays with him, but the hurt is more than she can peacefully handle. You would have a similar reaction if your spouse brought another partner, with whom you had to share time, space, and love.
In the last part of my book, you will find an explanation for the emotional difficulty that a child suffers with the presence of a younger sibling and how to help her cope and be empowered rather than devastated. I highly recommend that you read the book and read the last part a few times.
In addition to feeling jealous and helpless, your daughter may also feel guilty about the hurtful fantasies she might have about her brother. You must help her talk about these fantasies, listen to her, validate her feelings, and let her know that it is normal to have them. Guilt is a very toxic emotion that you must help her relieve so she can feel worthy again.
Your daughter needs to have one-on-one time with you every day; she needs her feelings validated; and, she must have an opportunity to fully express her emotions and fantasies with your open hearted listening. You will find in my book instructions on exactly how to help her. She can then become free to realize how much she loves her brother.
In addition, she needs new activities with mom or dad in which the baby is not involved. She will then discover the joy of being older. Open life for her so she needs not be like the baby in order to feel connected and content.
This issue is very crucial for your daughter’s life. It may not be easy to resolve it. If you need assistance, I do offer phone counseling and would be happy to guide you: http://naomialdort.com/guidance.html
Warmly, Naomi Aldort, www.AuthenticParent.com