What is Dethroned Prince Syndrome?
In most children the arrival of a new sibling can generate jealousy, frustration, envy and anger as they go from receiving all the attention from their parents to having to divide it. This feeling of jealousy towards the new brother is known as the Dethroned Prince Syndrome.
How does the arrival of a new sibling affect the family?
When a new sibling is born, the family structure goes through a moment of crisis or change, in which adjustments must be made to the roles and functions of each of them. Among the adjustments we find that time, care and attention must now be divided among the siblings. That is, the child goes from receiving all the attention to having to share it with his new brother. Likewise, changes are also introduced in routines, schedules, rhythm and needs to be covered and this not only affects parents, but also children.
It is important to be aware that it is natural and logical for jealousy to appear. It is a process of adaptation and maturation in the normal evolution of a child. Through these, the child tries to express that he is perceiving these changes and that he feels sad and afraid of being displaced because he no longer occupies the place he occupied before the arrival of his new brother.
How long does it last?
Jealousy, in most cases, is not permanent. They will disappear as the child feels safe again and finds his place within the family structure. However, the performance of parents plays a very important role in terms of the duration and magnitude of these. Later we will talk about what strategies parents can use to reduce the child’s suffering.
What behavioral changes does it generate?
The externalization of the Dethroned Prince Syndrome varies depending on each child, but the main manifestations are:
- Evolutionary regressions to reoccupy the place that belonged to it, such as:
- Use of a more childish language.
- Enuresis. Trouble controlling the sphincter.
- Appearance of fears that I did not have before.
- Behaviors: wanting to use a bottle, sucking your thumb, not wanting to sleep alone, claiming help from parents for tasks you did alone, etc.
- Apathy or sadness. Recurrent crying. To learn more about this symptomatology there is another blog post called “Children also suffer from depression”.
- Decreased appetite or difficulty falling asleep.
- Negativist attitude. Denial of parental demands (e.g., picking up toys, eating, homework, etc.). In the blog “What to do when my child misbehaves” we find a series of recommendations to manage this attitude.
- Decreased school performance.
- Psychosomatic complaints (tummy ache, headache, intestinal discomfort, etc.)
- Changes in behavior (throwing tantrums, being more aggressive, defiant, having more nervousness and restlessness, etc.).
- Anger with parents.
- Ignore the brother. Pretend it doesn’t exist, without showing interest in it.
Tips for managing the arrival of a sibling
The arrival of a new member in the family can become a difficult experience to manage, but there are certain behaviors that parents, and other primary caregivers, can put into practice to help attenuate the jealousy and discomfort they feel:
- Prepare the child for the arrival of his new sibling. Even if the child is very young, it will be helpful for him to start hearing his brother’s name and help with house preparations (decorating the room, buying new clothes, etc.). It is important to explain what is going to happen, not only focusing on the advantages but also explaining the care and attention that a baby needs.
- Avoid comparisons. It is essential to avoid comparisons between siblings. Each one is unique and different from the rest, having unique characteristics and it is important that you feel so.
- Validate the emotions you are feeling. Show an empathetic and supportive attitude, understand what you are feeling. Do not punish him for feeling jealous or force yourself to give him affection if he does not feel like it.
- Involvement in the care of the sibling. Intervene in the bathroom, the choice of clothes, in the diaper change, etc. But without excessive involvement.
- Foster a pleasant family atmosphere. Do, as far as possible, the activities they did as a family before the arrival of the new brother.
- Spend time with the child. It is very positive to dedicate time alone to play, talk, show affection and attention so that he feels loved and valued.
- Raise awareness among other family and friends. Explain that the child is going through the Dethroned Prince Syndrome so it is important that they understand and pay attention to both children at times of visits, events, etc.
Here are some general guidelines that can help you manage Dethroned Prince Syndrome. If you have tried to implement them and you still find it difficult to manage your jealousy or you feel overwhelmed by all the changes that are being generated in the family dynamics, do not hesitate to contact our team. We will be happy to help you.
Laura Maymó Gallurt
Psychologist Col. No B-03427