The arrival of a new baby can bring many changes to a family. Parents spend a lot of energy on preparations, and after the baby arrives, much of the family’s attention involves caring for the newborn.
All this change can be hard for older siblings to handle. It’s common for them to feel jealousy toward the newborn and to react to the upheaval by acting out.
But parents can prepare kids for an addition to the family. Discussing the pregnancy in terms that make sense to kids, making some arrangements, and including kids in the care of the newborn can make things easier for everyone.
- Build The Sibling Connection Early – You don’t need to wait for your child’s younger sibling to be born to build a connection between them. You can do it right from the time your baby is in your womb. Tell your kid about the arrival of his little brother or sister using statements he can understand. Say things like “mommy and daddy are bringing home a little brother/sister for you soon” or “you will soon need to take care of your baby brother/sister”. Ask him to feel the baby’s kicks on your stomach. Each time you take your child shopping, ask him to pick his choice of gift for his sibling. Building a strong sense of familiarity from the very start will play a huge role in defining your kids’ relationship with each other in future.
- Teach Him About Sibling Responsibility – Parents love to spoil their kids silly; my hubby and I do too! But teaching them a sense of responsibility is also important, and the best time to do so is when you are expecting your second child. Explain to your child that it’s his duty being the elder sibling to protect, love, and care for his brother or sister when he or she is born. Make him understand that as he’s growing up, he needs to be more caring and understanding not just towards his baby brother or sister, but also towards his parents. Doing so will empower him and help him understand the importance of family.
- Express Your Love – When was the last time you smothered your kid with hugs and kisses? Now is a great time! Make sure you go all out, expressing your love to your child and make him realize how much you adore him. The sense of touch holds an immense power to communicate those words that sometimes go unspoken. It gives a sense of reassurance to your child that no matter what happens, your love for him will remain strong, always!
- Explain Him In His Own Way – The best way to help your child relate to this change is to explain him in a way he best understands – through stories. While you are catching up on your dose of pregnancy books, make sure to read out stories that revolve around a baby coming into the family to your kid, as well. Get together and watch movies and cartoons around family themes, for example, one that portrays a relationship between a brother and sister. These stories will make him more accepting of having a new member in the family and will surely help ease the transition.
- Speak To Him About The Impending Changes – You are sure aware of all the possible changes that the arrival of your second baby will bring – the sleepless nights, the feeding woes, et. al. Your kid, however, isn’t, and you must ensure that you let him know what’s in store, so he’s mentally prepared. Tell him that the initial few months are going to be hard because the baby will need mommy around all the time, for everything, from eating to sleeping and pooping. Let him know that he can’t play with, or hold the baby immediately after he’s born and that he has to wait for his brother or sister to grow up a little to do so.
- Ask Him To Open Up About His Feelings – One of the most important factors you must keep in mind when pregnant with your second child is to speak to your elder child about his feelings. Talk to him daily about his life, his friends and his day at school. Look out for changes in his behavior and encourage him to share with you the things that might be bothering him. Doing this reassure him about the fact that you care and will prevent negative feelings of jealousy and insecurity from building up within him.
- Involve Him In The Excitement – From the baby-naming adventures to shopping for the baby’s clothes, toys, and room décor, everything about welcoming a new baby is thrilling and exciting. Make sure to involve your child in this fun experience so as to make him realize that his opinion matters. Ask him about his choices before making your decision with regards to any aspect of your little angel’s arrival. Doing this will make your child longingly await the company of his little brother or sister!
It is important that you be sensitive to the feelings your child is experiencing and handle them with care, rather than hoping everything falls into place with time. Remember, it’s not just you who’s facing the pressure and anxiety of a new family member; your child is, too!