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Anxiety and Stress Disorders (Children)

Anger Over New Brother

11/15/2006

Question:

My daughter is almost 4 and has been trying to cope with the arrival of her baby brother- 10 months ago. We have had our ups and downs and have seen a therapist when things were getting out of hand. We were told this was part of her trying to adjust to the new situation. Her dislike for him even now is evident- hits him, makes up songs about what a bad boy he is and how he`s going to be "thrown into the fire". She`s constantly screaming at him for something or the other. Of late she has been acting out towards me (mother). She doesn`t talk to me when she comes home from school, ignores me, shouts at me, hits me, and most disturbing- she screams out in her sleep- saying how she`ll beat me, she doesn`t like mama. If she`s not doing any of those things, she`s got a blank look on her face (her teachers have brought that to my notice). I know this is her dealing with the insecurity she`s going through and we just need to be patient but i don`t see an improvement and I`m worried that this rage is going to keep growing and develop into something worse where she feels she can`t connect with her brother or me.

Answer:

I believe your daughter's reaction is certainly a common one that we encounter.  I would ask you to spend special time with your daughter and help to alleviate her concerns that the "baby is getting all the attention" If that strategy does not work, I would ask your pediatrician to recommend a counselor for you and your daughter to get over this rough patch.

For more information:

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Response by:

Floyd R Sallee, MD
Professor
College of Medicine
University of Cincinnati