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Sibling Aggression

Our son is now 8 months old and our daughter is 27 months.  We have battled the 'new baby' transition with our daughter from the start.  She is so sweet, but when it comes to her little brother receiving attention from me (or other loved ones) we are still having issues...she throws things at him, tries to lightly scratch him, hit me, etc.  From the beginning we tried to involve her in 'baby' activities (changing diaper, feeding, etc) so we wouldn't have these issues, but I guess we failed.  We have tried time-out (which she joyfully puts herself in at times), reasoning, bribing (ha!), etc.  I just thought that by eight months she would be handling have a younger sibling better than she actually is.  Any suggestions for keeping the peace (and safety of our son)?

In this situation, your priority must be to insure the safety of your 8 month old.

I am pleased that you have decided to include your daughter in the tasks of caring for her brother. Continue to involve her and praise her for her help. Help her establish her own place as a big kid. “Thank you picking up the baby’s paci” “I’m so happy you are a big girl and no longer need a paci”.

Expose her to other children and animals. Read books to her about babies and animals. Ask her questions about gentle, kind, loving care. “How do you pet a dog? Thats right - softly”.

Expose them to groups of children like a play group. Make her the protector. Tell her before you arrive at the park that many kids do not know how to act gentle and kind with a baby and you are going to need her help. Hopefully, her protective, maternal instincts will show through.

When she is too rough with him use time out. Time out will work if it is done right. At her age, time out should be restrained: a chair with a belt, stroller, or pack and play. If she is not restrained than you are giving her extra attention for her misbehavior and making the problem worse.

more on Time Out


Written October 2011 by
Dr. Gordon, Windermere Pediatrician






gregorygordonmd.com is intended to help parents understand the needs and behaviors of children. The information presented in the site is the opinion of Gregory Gordon, M.D.and does not reflect the opinion of his partners. This website is owned exclusively by Doctors insights LLC. The advice in this site does not apply to all children. Always consult your healthcare provider for your individual needs.

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