When a new baby comes into an older sibling’s home, it can feel devastating and confusing for the older child in varying degrees depending on their age and maturity level.. How we help prepare them to adjust to the new reality of the baby’s presence in their home as well as taking up the time and attention of mommy, is critical.
Apparently when my sister came home from the hospital, I took her into my two year old arms and smiled for the charming photo of our first sweet encounter and then promptly handed her to my mom and asked when she was going back to the hospital. I was not amused. I remember feeling jealous and angry that this little creature had swooped in and from my perspective, stolen my mom and invaded my little world.
Preparing our kids of the upcoming change of a new baby is a bit tricky, especially if they are young. The pregnant belly that is going to burst forth their little brother or sister is a very abstract concept for a little mind to grasp. It’s helpful to point out babies whenever the opportunity arrives and talk about how your child is going to have one too. Talk to your child about relationships of brothers and sisters and how, when the baby grows a bit, they will have a playmate and friend.
How we frame our language is very important in that we need to make the child understand about how this translates to their life. “You will be a big sister.”” You can teach the baby how to color.” “You can show the baby all your toys.” Phrases like this will make the upcoming event of the birth something for the child to look forward to .Or for older kids, helping them to feel needed and of help in the process gives them a source of pride at being the more experienced one.
By giving them specific roles and privileges, your child can feel included in this big family life change, and hopefully less threatened by it. Some parents even include the sibling in naming the baby. Giving the child a few carefully considered options would be the best approach here to avoid having to send out a birth announcement for your baby,” Crayon.”
When my son declared that his younger sister had stolen me away from him, I told him that I understood how it felt that way. But I reminded him that unlike his sister who will always have to share me with him, he had a full two and a half years of just “Us” time. When I pointed out that that was something his sister will never have, I saw a small smile cross his chubby five year old face. Sometimes, it’s the little victories, especially in sibling rivalries.