Magazine article Working Mother

Baby Envy

Magazine article Working Mother

Baby Envy

Article excerpt

Your i-year-old is happily rocking out on her toy piano when her preschool-age brother calls for you. All too soon, the baby's happy tunes turn to whines, then to wails, as she sees you dote on her sibling. She's fed, she's dry, and she was happy moments ago. So what is this?

Perhaps the green-eyed monster. Research shows that babies as young as 6 months get jealous and may squirm or cry to gain back Mom's attention when she engages with a sibling, spouse or pet, according to Sybil L. Hart, PhD, professor of human development and family studies at Texas Tech University in Lubbock. An older baby may crawl over to seek your affection or become aggressive with your other child.

Yet jealousy in little ones, though sometimes trying, is not a bad thing. "It shows your baby is mature and high -functioning," says Dr. Hart. "This kind of assertiveness can be a characteristic of a secure child who has developed strong bonds with her mom." To keep both your children happy, try to engage with them at the same time when possible. And encourage your partner to pitch in more with the baby, so the two of them can build bonds as well. Meanwhile, you'll grapple with the green-eyed demon for that love connection any day. -Tiffany Forte

JEALOUSY SOOTHERS

To handle your baby's envy distress, Dr. Sybil Hart says:

* Foster friendliness. Establish a social atmosphere by having family and friends around. Your infant will see that sharing and spending time with others is a good thing.

* Try to multitask. …

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