1. “My son is the youngest among his all-boy cousins. They tend to leave him out of their activities. My heart breaks for him. How can he be part of the group?”
“If the gap is big, then it’s natural for them to exclude him; they have different developmental levels and different interests,” says Dr. Guerrero-Manalo.
Dr. Cainghug adds, “This is a difficult situation because his cousins may prefer an older boy to play with; your son could be very young and not aware of their rules yet. As he grows older, he will learn how to play by their rules and will eventually be accepted. In the meantime, just be supportive of your child.” Encourage your son to join his peers instead of playing with the “big boys,” adds Juan-Matti.
Dr. Guerrero-Manalo continues, “If the concern is that he’s the same age but he’s left out, it might be because he has developmental delays. Children are very attuned to the sameness and differences among peers; they’re not going to play with a kid who seems to act like a baby.”
2. “My son always wakes up his baby sister when she’s sleeping and secretly hurts her. What’s the deal?”
How do I get him to stop? This is normal. When you have a new baby in the house, there will always be some sort of ambivalence among the older siblings, says Dr. Guerrero-Manalo. Even though you encourage the older kids to love the baby, they might not be really open to the idea.
As for your son, reward him when he does something good. Ask him to help you care for the baby, adds Dr. Cainghug, such as handing you her diapers or preparing her crib. This way, he will feel some responsibility towards the baby. And when he helps, praise him to high heavens. Avoid punishments. The more you pay attention to misbehavior, the more he’ll do it because that’s when he gets attention.
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