The Journey to Big Siblinghood
Put a Positive Spin on Change
Until this point in your first child’s life, he has had things a certain way—and probably likes it—but life as he knows it is about to change. Keep your child involved and informed with each step of the process. It is essential for parents to present the prospect of a new baby in a positive light. In doing this, consider your child’s perspective. If she views a sibling as a threat to her position in the family or lifestyle, she’s less likely to welcome the inevitable changes ahead.
Strive to instill feelings of empowerment in your child by conveying ways in which the new baby will enhance his or her life. Use statements such as, “You’re such a lucky boy to be getting a little brother. He is really going to look up to you. When he gets older, he can play with you.” Reinforce these ideas by offering concrete examples to your child of how fun it will be to have a sibling.
Think about the things that are important to your child and emphasize how a baby brother or sister will improve those things. For example, children often like feeling grown up and are proud of accomplishments that set them apart from babies. Let your child know that there are many things that she knows how to do that the baby will need to learn, so your first child will be an important teacher when it comes time for the baby to learn to walk, talk, or read.
Once the baby arrives, always present the newborn as an asset to the family in the presence of your older child, no matter how stressed out or exhausted you may actually be. Don’t voice any complaints about having to change diapers or bemoan the lack of sleep caused by nighttime feedings. Be positive about aspects of the baby’s behavior that might be annoying to an older sibling.
Let your toddler or preschooler know that babies cry sometimes because they haven’t learned to talk yet. Remind your child of his developmental accomplishments and inspire him to take an interest and share the pride you feel in the new baby’s milestones. Encourage a feeling that the newborn is “our baby.”
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