Dear Rachel,

I recently gave birth to our second child and our first son, 2 1/2 obviously is in need of a lot more attention than ever, which is our new challenge. However, our son has reached the depths of terrible twos and is beginning to clash with my husband who until now was the most patient father and husband. Together with the stress of dealing with 2 children and my son's 'terrible twos', I'm afraid that my son is getting 'pushed away' by my husband’s lack of patience with him. I would love some advice on how to help them both since it is hurting me, and needless to say it hurts my husband and son even more.

Woodmere, NY

Dear M.N.,

Firstly, Mazal Tov on the birth of your baby. The birth of a new baby expands the family unit exponentially. It's not a matter of simple math, such as I had one child, now I have another and that makes two... as evidenced by the depth of your question, it's a little more like advanced calculus.

This is because each child is a world in and of him or herself which orbits around every other world in your home - each of your unique energies, moods and attitudes will have an impact on each other's thus creating some serious atmosphere. Child number one just got bumped out of the center of the universe. Your husband, who as of 2 1/2 years ago used to be the center of your world just got bumped again. It is not uncommon to experience a bit of turbulence.

Even when all possible preparation for a new baby has been made, a child can still feel a significant amount of resentment and anger towards the new baby and or his parents for having made this new baby a reality.

One idea that may be helpful for your son to get comfortable with: this is your baby too. Even this kind of language is easy for a two year old to grasp, mine, yours ... it's simple. The baby is not just mommy and daddy’s, it's mine too. With this kind of speech we are transmitting a sense of purpose and responsibility. And given that this is his baby, he needs to learn how to hold him, and how to help comfort him, how to recognize what makes his baby happy and what does not. It is imperative that all siblings understand that any act of physical aggression towards baby is intolerable.

But as long as that is clear, and you are supervising, perhaps allowing your son to be an active care-provider, a real big brother would be something he may enjoy. Letting him push the baby in his swing, wipe up spit-up from his chin, apply diaper ointment, help wash baby's feet in;or sing baby a song. Obviously at yours and his comfort level.He may also not express any interest in this new baby just yet, that's Ok too. He'll let you know when he's ready.

There are two basic needs that this new big brother likely has: 1) the need for love and reassurance, and 2) the need to release feelings of frustration and stress.

The first need can be fulfilled by setting aside time each day for private time with both you and your husband. This is an opportunity to really devote yourself 100% to him. It's important to remember that your son has grown accustomed in the last 2 1/2 years of his life to your undivided attention. And now, your attentions are divided.That's a huge shift is his reality. It could be that these clashes, which you describe as a symptom of the terrible twos are coming from a sense of insecurity and anxiousness. He's not sure of the implications of your love and commitment to him and he feels threatened by the baby.

It was said of the Ba'al Shem Tov that he could see inside the souls of the people who stood before him. He was a master of harnessing energy towards good. Even if the energy itself was not inherently positive, he could find a healthy release for nearly any kind tendency.

Similarly, when our children need to release energy and emotion we need to help guide them towards safe and healthy outlets. For example, crying. Crying is an emotional release, and so is a tantrum. But many of us have been lead to believe that crying and screaming is a sign of poor emotional health. On the contrary. Crying is an essential and healthy emotional release, best supported in the arms of a loving parent, or at least with in arms reach.

Two year olds don't have the maturity to express feelings. They just do what they feel. So, I'm not exactly sure what kind of behavior your son is expressing, but if it involves hitting or kicking or any physical acting-out behavior, I would suggest during your focused alone time to help him get some of his emotions out in a safe, healthy and supportive environment. A blank piece of paper and some crayons can also be a very powerful release - so can ripping paper.

Same goes for your husband. He needs emotional release too. It's really important as parents that we make sure that we are receiving the healthiest outlets as possible. First of all, your husband needs to remember that terrible twos is not a syndrome, it's just a limited way to view a powerful and pivotal developmental stage that children enter in their third year of life. And it so happens that the hallmark of this stage is characterized by oppositional behavior.

As parents, we know this phase is difficult... for us; it's also really hard for them. When a child chooses to disobey his parent, he is doing so because this is his first encounter with himself as an entity separate from you, his parent. It's actually amazing. He is slowly learning how to make choices, and of course he won’t always make the right ones, he's two. But we've got to respect him for trying, it's a start. Offering choices as opposed to directives can be very liberating for both parent and child. You're both still in control.

Additionally, I would encourage you and your husband to have some alone time and discuss what he is feeling. He must have a lot going on and be needing a healthy place to emote. Try to hear him without rising to the defense of your two year old immediately. Just try to listen. I think in that quiet, emotional place you might find some real growth.

And just remember, that although it may seem that he will be like this forever, he won’t be (though by then your little one may be starting this stage!).