Nov 30
Parenting Paragraph – Our 4 year old is acting out!

Q. I recently had a new baby and our 4-year old daughter is acting out.  Sometimes I’m afraid she is going to hurt the baby.  What should I do?  

A. Great question! Remember, this is a big transition for your daughter. She has been the  main focus of your attention for 4 years, and now she has to share you with a baby that is consuming your time. Be careful not to connect your daughter’s behavior to the new baby because it is equally likely her behavior is about the lack of your attention. This is an important distinction.

The first step in working with your daughter is to talk to her about how important she is to you and the family. Often parents assume their kids know they are important and loved but unless you are saying it – during good times and in bad – it isn’t as clear to children. Schedule daily alone time with your daughter; 20 to 60 minutes each day with just the two of you will have a huge impact (and have your spouse plan special play times  each week with your daughter as well). This time is sacred; therefore it is important to schedule it when someone else is available to care for the baby.  100% of your attention must be on your daughter.  Talk to her about your special time together so she knows it’s intentional.

When she is “acting out” safety must come first – hers and the baby’s. If there is fear of physical harm to either, the behavior must be stopped immediately. If there is no chance of physical harm to the baby, use the opportunity to be curious and ask her questions like “what are you feeling right now?”, “what can I do to help you?” Neurologically children are emotional beings; the logical side of their brain doesn’t develop until their mid-20s; so they need to know you understand how they feel before they will be open to hearing your request to change their behavior.

Don’t make assumptions about how she feels about the baby, ask her. Be sure she is showing up as her best self before beginning the conversation. Go in with curiosity using open-ended questions like “what do you think about the baby?” or “what is the best part about being a big sister?” Get her thinking about how she can be involved with the baby by asking, “what do you want to do to help mommy and daddy care for the baby?” or “what are some things you want to teach the baby?”

The key to growing a positive relationship between your daughter and the new baby is to nurture your relationship with her. Focus on ways you can show her love and you are teaching her to do the same.

laughingLaura Treonze, serves as Chief Life Strategist with LMT Consulting, which helps executives and teams create massive success through self-awareness. Her life-changing approach has transformed individuals and families and has redefined the way non-profits and corporations “do” business.