Sudden sibling rivalry

My oldest son is two-and-a-half. He used to be the best child. His younger brother has been an angel. Last week my son turned into a monster. He was rude and at times just nasty. He has always been so well behaved around company. He also had a cold. I thought that maybe it was the cough medicine that made him act up. I took him off of his medicine and his temper is worse. I am at the end of my rope. I have no more patience and neither does my husband. Is this a normal thing for him to be doing, or does it sound like a problem?

Question:

It does indeed sound as if your son is out of control right now, but I think there may be a simple reason. A two-and-a-half year old with a little brother who has been "perfectly well behaved" until now is holding too much anger and upset inside himself. Feelings of jealousy and rage are NORMAL at this age when there is a new sibling. Your son seems to be letting them out all at one time!

It is time, in fact, it is past time, to talk to your son about how hard it is to be a big brother. He needs to know that it is normal to have feelings of anger, jealousy, or even hatred sometimes for the little brother, who has, after all, come into the family and usurped some of his place in it. It's not enough to praise his good behavior, which you have obviously done. You must also explain that the bad feelings are okay, as long as one doesn't act on them. (And of course, you must continue to discipline him until his out-of-control behavior stops.)

This explanation must take place at quiet times and not during a tantrum. Explain that you know how hard it is to have a baby around and that it's hard for you, too. Tell him you're so glad to have him, the big brother, around to help you. Then, think of some activities that only he can do with one of you, without the baby. You might have a Daddy-Big boy outing to the park. Or you might have a Mom-Big Boy time at the movies. Your son needs to see that he is still loved for himself, that it is okay to grow up and that it is okay to be angry at the baby. When this is established, you will most likely see the return of your lovely boy!

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