Q: After my baby girl was born, my 30-month old son becomes very clingy. He asks to sleep with us every night and refuses to go back to his bed. What can I do?
Your child needs your guidance over time to adjust to having a baby in the family. He may think that his baby sister gets more “special care” from Dad and Mum, such as she can sleep closer to you, you will pick her up whenever she cries and giving her more attention. He can only fight for your attention and love while he got all from you before. Therefore, he becomes clingy and might even interrupt your caring of the baby.
There is no absolute way to deal with the situation but you must take your child’s temperament and developmental level into consideration. All children need attention and love from their parents. You may try to find ways to get along with your child to make him feel that the arrival of the baby will not change your love for him. Find some quality time to spend with him every day. You may also lead him to understand that the baby sister is also his. Guide him to accept the baby and make him experience the pleasure in interacting with her, such as asking him to help to get the nappy for the baby and showing him how to talk and play with the baby. Show appreciation to him for doing so.
To deal with your child’s sleep situation, you can set the rule of “sleeping in own bed all-night” with him. You can stay by his bedside for a short while before he sleeps. Praise him when he can follow the rule. You may also use a star chart to motivate his cooperation. After earning a certain amount of stars, reward him with an activity he likes.
Q: My 3-year-old daughter won’t share toys with her 11-month-old sister. If her little sister grabs her toys, she would beat her little sister. What can I do?
The 3-year-olds are still self-centred. At the same time, they may not be able to perceive the feelings of others and solve problems by themselves. Aggressive behaviour may arise when they are angry or frustrated. You can make use of the siblings’ playtime to teach them skills like respecting one another, sharing, taking turns as well as solving problems in a correct way.
You can set some rules with your 3-year-old daughter in advance such as “Be nice to your sister” and “take turns to play with the toys”. State the consequences of breaking the rules, like “taking away the toy for 1 minute”. Moreover, you can encourage your older child to play cooperative games with her younger sister like throwing balls, playing musical instruments together and building blocks. You can also figure out solutions with her when conflicts arise. When the younger child grabs the older one’s toy, tell your 3-year-old daughter that you understand she is mad about what her sister has done. However, she can talk about her anger instead of hitting her. If she still hits her sister, she has to go to the quiet time chair for a minute. At the same time, you need to show that you are fair towards both of them. You can distract the younger one by giving her another piece of toy while taking away the toy she grabbed.
It is important for your child to learn about sharing but do not overlook the time for her to play on her own. She needs some private time to explore and play without her sister. Ask her to choose a few toys which she does not want to share and let her play with them when her sister is bathing or sleeping.
Q: My son loves to play with the smartphone. Every time I stop him, he will throw a tantrum. What can I do?
First, be clear about the principles on using electronic screen products for children, such as no more than 1 hour for the total time spent in watching TV or playing with electronic games in a day, the appropriate types of programme and watching duration. Then, find a time to set rules with your child so that he understands your expectation.
Before the viewing time, you need to remind your child the rules agreed, “Do you remember how long you can play with the smartphone? Right! You need to give it back to me after 15 minutes.” Sit together and talk about the content of the activity with him as far as possible. When the time is nearly up, you can remind him again to get him ready, “Darling, you have 5 more minutes.” If your child hands over the smartphone when the time is up, remember to praise him and encourage him to engage in other activities. If your child resists, get his attention and tell him clearly, “Time is up. Please give me the phone.” Then, wait briefly for him to respond. Praise him if he follows. However, if he still resists, simply take the smartphone away. You need not respond to your child when he keeps throwing a tantrum. When you ignore him purposely, he will understand that his misbehaviour cannot attract your attention. Once he stops, you can attend to him again and lead him to another activity. Remember, consistent and firm management is important to make discipline work.