Sibling help

Help!! Alexander is exactly 4 years older than Sebastian. He has an imaginary friend who encourages him to do bad things, not eat dinner, not go to bed, things of that nature. Yesterday he told me that Baby Friend (her name) called Brother stupid. I told him to tell her that isn't very nice and that she can't stay here anymore if she keeps acting that way. Today he told us that Baby Friend told him to kill Brother because she wants a sister. He also dumped milk on the baby yesterday in an event that may or may not have been an accident.

What do I do? I want to handle this in an age appropriate manner that does not escalate things. He mostly loves his brother and asks that he be allowed to hang out in his room with him and really enjoys when he is the one to make Sebastian smile. I know that he has to feel displaced in some ways but I don't know how to help him. Thanks in advance.

Just for fun, here is their yearly bunny ears picture.


"Be who you are and say what you feel, because those who mind don't matter and those who matter don't mind." -- Theodor Seuss Geisel
I think it's pretty clear that Baby Friend is expressing Alexander's negative feelings about his brother - he probably knows that they are not acceptable which is why Baby Friend is the one that says them.

I think first thing is to let him talk about his feelings. Next time if he brings up something that BF has said ask him if he feels that way sometimes. That he loves his brother but sometimes he thinks he is stupid or wishes he wasn't there. Tell him it's OK to feel that way sometimes, but it's not OK to call his brother names or act on those feelings.
You can also tell him that if he is feeling like his baby brother is getting all the attention and he is sad, he can tell you and you will give him some extra attention and love. And if he does tell you or if you notice in some particular instance that he is feeling jealous and neglected, it's fine to tell the little one (within Xander's hearing) "I am going to put you down for a little while because your brother needs me right now" and leave the baby in the crib or playpen for 5 minutes.
I also go on occasional dinner dates with just my eldest while my husband stays home with my daughter. He loves that. When she was small he also wanted to play baby - I let him be in the crib sometimes, got him his own pacifier and baby bottle just to pretend.
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To Trenell, MizKerri and geeky:
I pray none of you ever has to live in a communist state.

Geeky is my hero. She's the true badass. The badass who doesn't even need to be a badass. There aren't enough O's in cool to describe her.
Most older siblings will have some feelings of being usurped at some point. How lucky for you that you have Baby Friend to tell you exactly how Xander is feeling. He's telling you...so believe him. Try not to be angry or worried though, about the "kill" statement. That's a very normal feeling that many siblings will have about their little competitor for mommy's attention. Now that you know, you can make it a point to help alleviate those negative feelings. I think it's important to acknowledge Xander's feelings, but also help him to put those feelings into perspective. Explain to him how the baby needs certain things, but also, as Geeky suggested, now that Sebastian is older, make him wait sometimes when Xander needs you. Let Xander be a baby sometimes, but also carve out some special time for Xander and give him some special privileges that only big-boys get, not babies.

Keep Baby Friend around for a while if you can. They're great informants. My son, Evan, had an imaginary friend when he was age 4 through 6. His name was Robot Evan. Sometimes Evan would act so shocked when Robot Evan did something really bad. It was quite amusing, and also quite helpful. And, of course, now that Evan is grown, I have some great material with which to tease him...and Robot Evan still gets the blame for bad stuff.
Thank you, Geeky and RCW. This is very helpful. I didn't think about it being a positive that Baby Friend was expressing Alexander's negative thoughts. I've been trying to do more one on one time with just Xander but will step up my efforts. I mentioned last night to him that Brother has to go to bed early because he is a baby and so that we can have special time together and he seemed thrilled. It's a hard life being four and even harder when a shrieking competitor comes along.

Robot Evan? I love it!

Thank you both again for the advice. It is really helpful to hear from BTDT moms on these things.


"Be who you are and say what you feel, because those who mind don't matter and those who matter don't mind." -- Theodor Seuss Geisel
My husband especially has done a FABULOUS job with helping prevent/alleviate jealousy with Solomon since Abram's been born. Every day when he gets home from work, he gives Abram and me a quick kiss but then spends about 15-20 minutes of giving Solomon his undivided attention - playing, wrestling, etc. He also frequently takes Solomon on special outings/errands, saying because he's the oldest boy that makes him special and he gets to do special things.

Solomon also does a really good job of expressing when he wants my undivided attention, and he's good at knowing that he can usually only get it when my husband is home. He'll just say "Daddy take baby" and then he usually wants to nurse by himself but since you're not nursing Xander you could snuggle or do anything just you and him. We try to be proactive about it too where if Abram is happy with Daddy for the moment I will initiate some sort of activity with just Solomon and me. I still put Solomon to bed every night too - out of necessity, but I do think that it really helps give us some snuggletime at the end of each day.
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I agree with all of the above. I try to take Harry out for special time too. Last week, the local family association had a free, Sunday morning screening of the first "Curious George" movie. I told Harry we were having a "movie date". We got popcorn and lemonade and he sat through the whole thing. It was his first time at a movie theater and he was thrilled. (It was also hilarious to hear him yelling things at the screen like, "Be careful, George!!") Since then, he keeps saying he wants to go on another "moobie date with mommy to the George theater." It made me realize I need to do that kind of thing more. He's still a little guy and needs special mommy-time.
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Good advice! I need to read through it myself. A couple days ago, Connor said, "I hate Ollie," when Ollie took a toy from Connor. I was so surprised and caught off-guard.
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When I was little I would tell mom that I hated Collin allllll the time. I was really mad because I was doing all sorts of cool stuff (to me, at the time) and he was getting praised for laughing. I read through the first HP book at 4 and a half--I was so proud of myself for finishing it!!--but I was told "good work sweetheart!" and was brushed off, but Mom went on and on and on about how Collin had started to smile. I didn't get why it was such a big deal--I've been able to smile since forever.

My parents didn't realize that they were doing it, but I was definitely pushed to the background after Collin was born, and for that matter, I still am.....but its whatever. I've learned to deal with it.....
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Kenzallan, thanks so much for sharing that. We totally rave about Sebastian's smiles and just the fact that he looks at us. That's got to be rather irritating to Xan who wants to show us how he can skip and leap and hop on one foot. I will definitely keep your post in mind.

We talked a little this morning and Alexander decided that he wants to keep Brother and that he can get a sister when Brother is bigger. Um, not happening but it's a step in the right direction.

Maybe we will go the park this afternoon. Just me and Alexander. Thank you again for sharing your stories and insight.


"Be who you are and say what you feel, because those who mind don't matter and those who matter don't mind." -- Theodor Seuss Geisel
Its very clever for Xander to have an imaginary friend IMO.

Karan will just flat out tell us that he's going to kill Sandhya.... with his lightsaber. I'm actually quite horrified at the things that can come out of a 4 year old's mouth. He's big on killing people these days (thank you, preschool friends).

He's been a big brother for 2 years, but we're only now starting to see jealousy. I thought we could take credit for that that we didn't have any problems before (or we were just lucky) but I guess it has to do with the fact that the kids are only 2 years apart so jealousy is more of a 3-4 year old emotion rather than a 2 year old.


Mad Scientist, thank you for sharing. I too was wondering how much of this was just normal for a four year old. I also blame preschool but I'm stuck with him learning inappropriate things from boys for life.

What do you tell Karan about the lightsaber threats?


"Be who you are and say what you feel, because those who mind don't matter and those who matter don't mind." -- Theodor Seuss Geisel
He's been a big brother for 2 years, but we're only now starting to see jealousy. I thought we could take credit for that that we didn't have any problems before (or we were just lucky) but I guess it has to do with the fact that the kids are only 2 years apart so jealousy is more of a 3-4 year old emotion rather than a 2 year old.
Originally Posted by mad scientist

This is good to know about in advance! We haven't experienced too much jealousy yet but it's good to know that it might pop up in a year or two.

We did witness jealousy over the weekend a bit when we had my almost-5-year-old nephew and my husband was playing/roughhousing with both of them. Solomon's not used to taking turns with that kind of stuff.
Faith, 3Aish redhead
Mama to two wild superheroes and a curly-headed baby boy
About kill stuff- when I was pregnant with Maya, we were undecided about whether we'd find out her gender at the ultrasound. One day Max, then 3 1/2, said, "It better be a sister, if it's a brother I'll kill it. We already have a brother". I was pretty horrified at his choice of words, but it helped me decide to find out the gender (so if it was a boy, we'd have 20 or so weeks to prepare).
A 3-4 year old doesn't really understand the reality of what "kill" means; they just want things to be like they were. I know Danae will sometimes ask me really weird questions, like, "What would happen if I made you blind?" I don't think they understand violence very well at this age.

I'm sure I'll be dealing with sibling rivalry soon enough. I have a suspicion that Danae will adore her brother until he's old enough to be a little more independent and not listen to her anymore. She's so bossy.
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I'm glad to know I am not alone with this. I talked to a friend last night whose little boy is a few days older than Alexander. Her son told her that he wants to rip her apart after she told him to brush his teeth. Four year olds are mean.

I forgot until Cosmicfly posted that he has really wanted a sister from the start. She had a name and everything (Camille) and he was not pleased to find out that she was not coming and that we wouldn't name a boy Camille.


"Be who you are and say what you feel, because those who mind don't matter and those who matter don't mind." -- Theodor Seuss Geisel
Sorry, no advice, but they are so adorable!
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These boys are going to be LADYKILLERS when they grow up! Seriously, I already have a crush on them!

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I'm glad to know I am not alone with this. I talked to a friend last night whose little boy is a few days older than Alexander. Her son told her that he wants to rip her apart after she told him to brush his teeth. Four year olds are mean.
Originally Posted by DarkAngel
I'm sorry, but I laughed so hard from this.

My daughter is 2.5 and sometimes tells me "BAD MOMMY" and hits me when I do her hair or help her get dressed.
Kids don't know what they're saying sometimes. Especially when they're that young.

Thank you for the compliments and the advice.


"Be who you are and say what you feel, because those who mind don't matter and those who matter don't mind." -- Theodor Seuss Geisel

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