When the oldest child feels neglected

Preview: When mom as more than one child, the oldest child feels neglected sometimes. Here are a few ideas to help the oldest feel special and bond with mom.

“You only take care of the little kids and not me”. If words could kill that would have been the end of me. My precious little baby, now the oldest of three, feeling like I don’t take care of her. Giant. Parenting. FAIL.

She must be at least partially right because don’t remember how she got so big. Didn’t I just bring her home from the hospital? I must have blinked because now she is now a big girl. Have I been so busy chasing her sister and brother that I stopped taking enough care of her?

I do take care of her, just in different ways than I take care of her younger siblings.


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It is easy to lean on the oldest child for help. It is easy to forget that they need… they WANT… mom to take care of them too.

As the oldest of my own siblings, I understand where she is coming from. As a mom, I also understand why I had to help with my siblings and do things for myself. In the end, it taught me independence and responsibility. But what do you do when your oldest child feels neglected?

She cannot appreciate any of the long-term values right now, so instead I try to find ways to bond with her on a one-on-one basis. We want each one of our children to know how special they are to us.

Here are a few ideas to bond when the oldest child feels neglected:

~ Tell him/her how proud you are– Sometimes a child just needs to hear the words of praise. They just need to feel appreciated. They need to know that you notice all they do and that you are grateful for their help. Words of appreciation can go a long way in supporting their self-esteem.

~ Have a special hand-shake– It may sound a little silly but having some small “thing” that is just between the two of you can strengthen your bond. Maybe when they help their sibling tie a shoe or make breakfast for themselves, you can give them a special high-five or do your hand shake. This small gesture lets them know you noticed what they did and you are proud. It also helps them feel a connection to you.

~ Let them stay up late– Give the oldest some extra time at night to stay up with just mom and dad. Even if it is just 15 extra minutes, it shows them that there are also privileges that come with being the oldest (and not just extra responsibilities).

~ Find a bond Pick a television series to watch together. My daughter gets so excited when she sees a preview for a new episode of our show. I get excited too because I think she is happy when I share her enthusiasm. When it’s on, we sit together and watch the whole episode. Just the two of us.

Let them teach you something I bet your oldest knows something you don’t. Maybe they can build a Minecraft house, spin a fidget spinner on their nose, or even do a complex math problem- and they would love to show you. Maybe you could pretend you don’t know how to change Barbie’s dress so your child can “teach” you how. Teaching is an excellent way for them to learn and is also a great confidence builder! Won’t they be so excited that they taught mommy how to skateboard or make a band bracelet?

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~Read a book together– Depending on your child’s age, you could select a book together and take turns reading chapters. For older children, you could each read on your own then get together to talk about what’s happening (like a special mommy-and-me book club!)

~ Ask them what they need: Don’t try to guess what they need from you. Ask. Ask your child  what he needs or what he needs from you. He just might be able to tell you. And you might be able to give it to him.

As I type this ending, she has fallen asleep next to me during “our show”. If I could get in to her little head, I would tell her that I will NEVER EVER not take care of her.

While I appreciate and need her help so much, I hope one day she will realize that what I treasure most is her friendship. I value her as a person. I am both grateful for and proud of her independence.

With some bonding plans in place, I hope the days when my oldest child feels neglected are in our past.

Fly your Happy Mom flag and join us!



  1. I definitely understand. I am the oldest and I also have three children. One thing that is nice to do with the oldest child is to get a babysitter for the other two and take the oldest out on a special date. A “privilege” of being the oldest, which makes them feel special.

  2. These are such great ideas. I’ve always tried hard not to let my oldest feel like she’s been forgotten. It can r tough finding the right balance.

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