Here’s the situation : The toddler, we will call Sam, says he loves the new baby, but then tries to scratch his eyes out. What to do?
Well… even though Sam says he loves the baby – which I’m sure he does, he is obviously experiencing some anger as his actions suggest. So I would suggest asking him if he feels angry the next time that he tries to scratch baby. Or perhaps the feeling is actually sadness? Whatever it is, it is definitely a “bad” feeling ( as in it makes him feel bad, not that there is anything inheriently wrong with the way he is feeling.) Get him to acknowledge what he is feeling by saying – “I’m mad” or ‘I’m feeling sad” and tell him it’s ok that he feels that way. He’s allow to be upset. This new baby makes things really different for him. Tell him that. Be empathic.
Then suggest other ways to express the feeling… stomp his feet, yell, stuff like that. Tell him showing his mad feeling in that way is ok. And then say that it’s not ok to hurt the baby. He is not allowed to show his mad feeling by hurting the baby.
Explain that new baby just need their mommies a lot, because that’s what babies do… and tell him that you will love him just a much as before. He is just as important as the new baby.
And then make a big effort to reward his good behaviors with your time and attention. Tell him that if he is nice to baby – kisses and gentle with baby – then he is rewarded with one-on-one time with you. Call in reinforcements – hubby, family to watch baby so that this can happen. And then just keep doing this and give it time. He will come around.
Also – get other adults in his life to make a big fuss over him… notice him when they come over to see baby. Get Grandma and Grandpa to spend extra time with him. Get Dad as involved as possible with extra attention. And give it time. 🙂
ps. If you have another suggestions – please let me know.