My son was top dog at daycare from the moment he arrived nearly a year ago. I mean, at 9 months of age, he was by far the youngest. Besides him, there were two 3 year-olds and two 4 year-olds plus the daycare provider’s 6 year-old (who was there before and after her school day). He immediately found his place in this setting of older kids and became the center of attention pretty quickly.
He learned very quickly how to play with older kids and even now, a year later, he has prefers to play with three to five year-olds when we go to the park than toddlers his age. Of course, that’s to be expected since he has only rarely been exposed to kids his age and younger.
A part of this frightens me somewhat. I mean, he’s going to be a big brother soon and though I know he’s full of love, I’m anxious to see how he will react to sharing attention with a tiny human in the house.
Luckily, I now have a snapshot of how he may react.
You see, the two four year-olds that were at daycare during the last year are starting school this year and one of them has been replaced by an adorable ten month-old little girl who started attending the in-home daycare my son goes to last week.
The first day she was there, the baby was a curiosity. Charles found her presence amusing at first and was as enthralled by her coming as the other kids were. He seemed quite ok with her presence and went about his usual business, even allowing his sitter to give her some attention ;)
On the second day, though, when he realized that the baby was probably there to stay, Charles started acting out. The sitter described him (not without a smirk) as having a good arm and a great aim. Apparently, Little Dude took to throwing things at the baby when he became frustrated with her. Oops!
Of course, we talked about this and I was really happy to hear about how she handled the situation. I have absolutely loved this sitter from day one. Besides the fact that she very clearly loves the children in her care, she is quite laid-back (she had no problems with the cloth diapers or baby-led weaning approach) and, as I learned last week, we are very much alike in our visions of discipline and child-rearing.
Since she does not believe that a toddler Charles’ age understands the concept of a time-out, she decided to use what she described to me as being the “velcro method” in which she had Little Dude follow her around and help with various tasks. This worked wonderfully with Charles as he loves to help around (ie: set the table, take the clothes out of the dryer).
On a side note, we actually do use time-outs at home, which we started a couple of months ago when Charles decided to start hitting when he was unhappy. Though we don’t put him in his room for a set number of time, we do have him go to his room. We try (I say “try” because, well, we are only human and sometimes just react) to use positive language instead of negative language (ie: “be gentle” instead of “no, don’t hit”) and try to put into words what he is feeling (“I know you’re angry/sad/frustrated…, but please be gentle”). Then, we tell him that he needs to go calm down and bring him to his room (he’s usually fine after a minute). After, we remind him of the behavior we want him to have, give him a hug and tell him we love him.
Things have now gotten to a point where when he starts acting out (ie: before a meltdown happens), we ask him if he needs to calm down and he generally nods, goes to his room on his own, turns on his white noise machine, closes the door and comes back out a minute or two later after turning off his noise machine in a super good mood. When he’s in full meltdown mode, or has an inappropriate behavior (like hitting), we tell him we think he needs to calm down instead of asking him and he generally goes to his room on his own. Sometimes, when he feels that he’s losing control, he’ll look at us, say “sleep” and go to his room on his own to calm down.
*Here’s to hoping I didn’t jinx myself by writing all of this out*
Anyway…back to daycare…
The next day, Charles was much more forgiving with regards to the 10 month-old. Instead of throwing something at her when he became irritated, he would start repeating “no, baby!” over and over again (in the tone one would use to scold a dog). Whenever his sitter heard him, she would ask him if he wanted a hug. He would, of course, always accept the hug and then go back to playing happily…until the baby annoyed him again LOL. Things are getting better and better every day and Charles doesn’t get annoyed with the baby as quickly now.
I’m actually really happy that a younger child has started daycare as it has given me an idea of what to expect once Peanut arrives and has given me some ideas as to how to deal with Charles when he’s going to act out. I know that he will be an awesome big brother, but am still expecting him to not be pleased with the crying baby that will be frequently attached to his mom. I’ve already started to think of some of the things I will do to try to help with the transition:
- Wear the baby so that I can play with my son while nursing and holding Peanut.
- Keep sending Charles to daycare 3-4 days per week (we pay for daycare whether he goes or not anyways) so that he can play with his older friends.
- Have Little Dude help me around the house (grabbing the baby’s clothes, putting the baby’s diaper in the garbage can, helping out with meal preparations…).
- Restarting swimming lessons so that Charles can have some alone time with one of his parents once a week.
How did your toddler/child react to the arrival of a second (or third…) child? What did you do to ease the transition? What have you found to work with regards to disciplining your toddler?