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Q&A:
Why does my 3-year-old resent his 1-month-old brother?

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Question


My 3-year-old son won't go near my new baby, who is 1 month old. He did when the baby was born, but now he won't, and he tells everyone that the baby is bad or that he hates him. But my 18-month-old loves the baby and has no problem with him. What's up with my 3-year-old?

Answer


Your son's behavior is quite common, especially among preschoolers of the same gender as the new baby in the family. Think of the situation from his perspective: He's worried that the new baby is replacing him in your eyes. That's a terrifying thought to a young child.
There are a few things that you can do to help him feel more secure and, therefore, friendlier toward his younger brother. First, tell him repeatedly that you're going to be his parents forever and ever. Be sure to spend some time alone with him and focusing all of your attention on him every day. This way, through your words and your behaviors, you're addressing his unspoken fears of abandonment.
Second, tell your 3-year-old that he's so smart that he has a new and very special job. He's going to be the "official interpreter" for his baby brother. When his brother babbles or coos, ask him what he thinks the baby is saying.
This will reassure your older son that he's still an important family member. Also, his "translations" will probably tell you more about what's on his mind than anything having to do with your new baby.  
 
 
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