This may be a problem, especially when number one in the family circle is suddenly confronted with a rival in the form of number two, who may usurp his or her position.
Jealousy is a major obstacle, and can lead to a great amount of jealousy within the mind of the displaced person. Jealousy, of course, implies a sense of insecurity combined with a desire to monopolize. In any given family circle there are many situations leading to unhappiness. If parents make a major display when a second baby arrives home, this can rapidly set the jealousy problem into motion. It is aggravated if there are fights between parents and a sense of emotional stress and tension is present. This does nothing to soothe jangled nerves or settle a mind that is already anguished and resentful.
Jealousy can lead to actual violence on the part of the child. A child may cause physical harm to the newcomer, or may go out of the way to plan accidents or situations that may harm the new brother or sister. But often such children will assume more overt ways of expressing discontent. They may revert to bedwetting, thumb-sucking, or any of the attention-getting devices already named. There may be a sleeping problem, or they may withdraw from the social circle of the family and develop an aggressive attitude or become outright antisocial.
It’s essential for such children to be taken into confidence as soon as the parents know a second (or third or fourth) child is on the way. By preplanning, many of the problems will be averted before they happen. Involving them in the whole venture is the ideal. Make them feel they are part of the whole project, that the new baby is theirs, and part of their fortunate role in life is to care for baby and keep him or her safe. Don’t overdo it, or they may suspect something sinister. But if they are included in the picture at all times, the chances of a jealousy problem arising will be greatly reduced. It’s worth taking the time – the results will inevitably be more satisfactory if you do.