If we imagine ourselves having the mind of a toddler, we can see how overwhelming life can feel. There are so many new things to learn, infinite rules and schedules to abide by, and very little control. This is hard on a young child, who needs constant reassurance that they are loved, cared for, and safe. With the addition of a sibling or being around another child, a toddler’s life becomes even harder.
There are many social skills and emotions a toddler is experiencing at this age…. but I want to talk about JEALOUSY.
Jealousy is a common behavior in toddlers. It is natural for a toddler to feel jealous toward another child or a new baby sibling who demands our attention, even for a few minutes. When this happens, your child needs reassurance that they are seen and loved. It’s unfair of us to expect our child to automatically love or accept the presence of another child who competes with them for our time and attention.
How can you embrace “jealousy” as a sign of parental attachment?
Pay attention to your vocabulary. Do you find yourself using words such as “jealous,” “selfish,” or “needy” in response to your child seeking your attention? If so, pause and ask yourself the following:
- What is the need behind my child’s behavior right now?
- When was the last time I offered my child uninterrupted 1:1 time?
- How often do I play with my toddler, and do I follow their lead in play?
- Do I have developmentally inappropriate expectations of my toddler?
- How much undivided attention did I receive from my parents when I was a child?
- Did I feel “jealous” when I was a child? If so, who was there for me to help me?
If jealousy begins to create social difficulties in your child’s life, here is what you can do , or at least experiment with:
- Offer 10-20 minutes of daily uninterrupted 1:1 time.
- Play “I love you more!” games. Make a game of chase or tag into a “I love you more!”
- Be honest. Gently say, ” I know this feels hard right now. I love you so much. Even though I can’t spend more time with you right now, we will have our “you-and-me -time” right before bedtime. I can hold you now if you need to cry or feel sad”.
Let me know in the comments below how you handle jealousy or other social difficulties with your toddler. To learn more ways to connect with your child, order my book on Amazon here: https://www.amazon.com/dp/1647396670
Yours in gratitude & growth,