This article is an extract from the lecture and consultation “Worried about kindergarten and school life? Preparation and Measures for Parents” held in 2018. Japanese original, and English and Chinese translations are available.
“You were a good boy/girl before the baby was born”?
Reluctance to go to kindergarten and nursery: Lonely feeling of the older child
There are often times when a child who goes to kindergarten or nursery suddenly changes when his/her younger sibling is born. S/he would not listen to what parents tell him/her, or do things that seem so selfish. It is a problematic behavior for the parents, but for the child, it’s self-assertion.
The child is feeling, “I also want to stay at home with Mum. The baby is so much cared and adored. I also want to be cared like the baby.” However, s/he would be sent to the kindergarten or nursery. That makes him/her feel isolated. Since s/he has a latent feeling that s/he doesn’t want to go, s/he behaves in various problematic ways.
Parents would misinterpret this as a matter of discipline and be strict to the child, but the child just wants them to understand his/her sad and lonely feeling. If s/he keeps on being a good child, s/he would be unattended. So, s/he becomes a troublemaker to convey “Look at me!” and “Love me more!” One of such acts is showing reluctance to go to kindergarten or nursery.
On the other hand, there are children who don’t say that they don’t want to go to kindergarten or nursery even if they are feeling so inside. They put up without saying. But if they do so, little things begin to show up, such as headaches and tummy aches. Even if they manage to go to kindergarten or nursery, they don’t feel like doing something, and their body won’t move.
What they are feeling inside is like this: “Mum stays with the baby all the time. She takes care of the baby so much. But I was thrown away to kindergarten.” They cannot express such loneliness and their inner feeling with words, so they start to behave in various troublesome ways.
Mothers and fathers would think, “Why won’t you listen to me? You were such a good boy/girl before the baby was born.” It is because of this feeling that mothers tend to be unable to accept or forgive the current situation of the older child being such a handful.
But if the parents get to understand the lonely feeling inside their child, they would realize how sweet the child is, and would give him/her a hug. As the feeling of the parents change, the child’s behavior would often calm down.
Speaker: Ms. Ryoko Uchida, psychology counselor for children
Since 1973, Ms. Uchida has continuously held counseling sessions at multiple healthcare centers in Tokyo. In addition, since 1998, she has presided over <<Momo’s Room; Child Counseling>> and has held group consultation for truancy, delinquency and withdrawal. Ms. Uchida is also a part-time lecturer at Rikkyo University, a widely known advisor for NHK Radio phone counseling on children’s psychology and a speaker at numerous seminars at child care circles, parents’ groups on truant children, and kindergartens across Japan.
(Translated by Wakana Goto)