2. Daughter Jealous of new baby
I feel like I am at a low point right now with my daughter and need to learn how to handle her better. She is 2 ½ and I just had another baby girl who is 2 weeks old. I understand how it must feel to go from being the baby in the family to having a new baby in the house who mama is holding and nursing all the time. Even though I give her so much attention, she has been acting out and hitting me, scratching and pulling my hair. Alhamdulillah she only has love towards the baby and only loves and hugs and kisses her, but all her anger is taken out on me. I have used distraction tactics when I had her only, but with a new baby at your breast, I don’t know how to handle her when she attacks me physically, and I find myself being harsh with her (never hitting though) and then I am consumed with guilt afterwards. Any words of wisdom you have will be greatly appreciated.
May Allah reward you for seeking out positive ways of managing your daughter’s behavior. Alhamdulillah, it sounds like you are doing a great job at trying to alleviate your daughter’s jealousy by giving her as much attention as you can. May Allah reward you for being kind and understanding of her feelings.
One thing you might try the next time your daughter pulls your hair or scratches you is look her in the eyes and in a kind, soft voice explain to her something like the following: “Honey, when you pull mommy’s hair it hurts. Please don’t do that. You are my friend. I love you. I don’t want you to hurt me. I want us to have fun together. It makes me sad when you hurt me.” When you tell your daughter that she’s hurting you, you are appealing to her emotional side; children her age have a strong desire to please their mother. You are also giving her an understanding of the effect of her actions. She may not realize the impact that the expression of her emotions has upon you. She’s merely venting her frustrations.
When you tell her that she is your friend and you love her, again, you are appealing to her emotional side. You are also reminding her that you love her, which is something she continually needs to be reassured of.
After explaining to your daughter that she’s hurting you and you love her and such, monitor her response. If she lets go and shows remorse, tell her thank you. Then hug and kiss her and try to continue giving her some form of positive attention by talking to her or finding some way to engage her. If she doesn’t let go or stop being aggressive, kindly let her know that you have to leave the room when she’s mean to you because it hurts, and you’ll be back after she has calmed down. Then leave the room. If she follows you, let her. If she avoids hitting or scratching you in the room that you move to, begin talking to her and giving her attention. For instance, ask her to select a book for you to read to her while you are nursing. If she continues hurting you, go to a room where you can lock the door until you have finished nursing the baby.
Also, find tasks that she can do related to the baby. When she does the task, praise her for it. For instance, have her get the baby’s diaper for you. When she brings it, tell her how happy she makes you when she helps you out. Tell her what a big girl she is. You can also ask her to hold the baby’s hand while you breast feed the baby. This can occupy her attention and keep her hands busy so they won’t hurt you. Having her get involved with the baby while you’re nursing can also help her feel more important around the baby rather than feeling left out because of the baby.
Another thing you can do is teach and explain to her emotion words. You can find more information on this subject, Insha’Allah, in Grandma Jeddah’s e-book Discipline without Disrespecting. When she’s pulling your hair or scratching you, tell her something like the following: “Amira, you must be ‘sad.’ When people are sad sometimes they do things that hurt people. When you scratch me it hurts me. When you’re sad, instead of scratching Mommy, ask Mommy to hold you or rock you or read you a book.”
Also teach her the word jealous. Explain to her that jealous is the way she feels when Mommy is spending time with someone else like the baby, instead of her. Let her know that you understand how bad she feels when she’s feeling jealous. Tell her that whenever she feels jealous she can say to you. “Mommy I’m feeling jealous, please hug me.” When your daughter can start verbalizing how she feels, she’ll have less need to show you how she feels through misbehavior.
Try complimenting her often and letting her know how happy you are that she’s your daughter. When you notice her not pulling your hair or scratching you when you’re nursing, be sure to let her know how happy you are that she’s not doing these things.
Jealousy and sadness are feelings that your daughter is likely to experience on occasions throughout her life, Insha’Allah. You have an opportunity to teach her proper ways of expressing her uncomfortable and hurtful feelings in a way that is pleasing to Allah. Using some of the distractions and redirecting methods suggested above should be helpful for you in this process, insha’Allah.
Finally, may Allah continue to reward you for your patience, and continue to bless you to have patience when dealing with your daughter. This is a phase that will pass, Insha’Allah, in due time. The fact that she is very affectionate toward the baby is an indication of how well you have done already in trying to prepare your daughter for her uncomfortable feelings of jealousy and sadness. By continuing to be patient with her and showing her affection, you are instilling in her that you still love her. Once she feels secure with your love and feels you understand her pain, you should see a decline in her aggressive behavior, Insha’Allah.
This is an excerpt from Grandma Jeddah's e-book 67 Discipline Pearls for Your Most Challenging Discipline Problems. Order your copy today at www.grandmajeddah.com
Grandma Jeddah is the mother of 11 children and 16 grandchildren. She has taught hundreds of students for over 30 years at an Islamic school in Los Angeles, California. She has written dozens of articles for Muslim magazines, newspapers and blogs. She is the author of, Discipline without Disrespecting: Discover the Hidden Secrets of How to Effectively Discipline Your Muslim Child--And Keep Your Peace of Mind while at It. Order her e-books at: http://www.grandmajeddah.com/