Why Has My Older Child Regressed Since Her New Sibling Was Born?

It is rather common for an older child to experience some degree or another of regression after a new sibling is born. The fact of the matter is that having a new sibling can be both a joyful and a traumatic experience all at the same time. In addition, it can be difficult for toddlers to express their own wants and needs, and regressing can sometimes make them feel safer and more secure. Regression, at least for a little while, is a perfectly normal occurrence when a new sibling is born.

On some level, whether it is conscious or not, an older child may observe the new sibling’s behavior and be learning from it. She sees the new baby yell and kick, and be rewarded with a bottle. She watches the baby wet himself and get his diaper changed for him. She may very well see the immature behaviors asa source of reward. Because of this, it is important that you reward more mature behaviors in your older child.

When regression first starts, there isn’t necessarily anything big that you need to do to address the issue. The most important thing in early stages is that you make sure that you give your toddler a lot of praise for acting “grown up.” Tell him that he is doing a great job when he learns a new skill. Thank him for using the potty like a “big boy.” Give him attention when he is acting his age, and encourage your toddler to be prideful of all of the things that he can do that his new sibling is unable to do.

If regression continues long after the new sibling is born, you might consider some family therapy or individual counseling. IN many cases, however, the regression will go away on its own, regardless of what you do or do not do. The important thing is that you are patient with your older child through this process, as she figures out what behaviors are really babyish and which behaviors are appropriate to their own age.


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