Helping Your Child Adjust to a New Sibling
Helping your child (or children) wrap their minds around the idea that they’re going to have a new sibling can sometimes be difficult – especially for a first-born child. This is something I’ve experienced many times as a daddy to six with one more on the way. Throughout the years, I have learned several things that help ease the transition of bringing home a new baby.
Open Dialogue: As many of you know from my past articles, I believe in open communication. Talk with your child about what will happen when Baby comes home months prior to Baby’s arrival. Discuss both things that may change and things that will stay the same. Give your child the opportunity to express his fears and excitements with you, too. Ask your child to draw pictures about it if they’re hesitant to talk. Good communication will ensure Baby isn’t a huge surprise, and will ultimately alleviate a lot of stress and anxiety you or your child may have about the situation.
Look to Media: If your child has a favorite television show or character, do some research to see if there’s an episode about bringing home a new sibling. It’s a very common occurrence, and most TV shows have dedicated at least one episode to this change. Watch the segment together and make sure to talk about it afterwards. There are several great children’s books that are a great resource to help ease the transition and make it less of a shock on the big day.
Time for You and Me: Often times a child is simply jealous of the attention the new baby will receive and that they won’t have as much one-on-one interaction with you. It’s extremely important to still carve out time to spend with your other children once baby arrives. Devote at least 20 minutes a day to an activity of your child’s choosing, and make sure this time is uninterrupted and engaging – that means no blackberries and no television.
Older Sibling Responsibility: Help your little one understand that they will play a role in the new baby’s life. It’s often a good idea to make a book together full of your child’s art expressing the things they will one day teach their new brother or sister. Things like picking out a new toy, cleaning your room, tying your shoes, using the toilet, and sharing your things. This will give your child another reason to look forward to their new sibling, and they’ll feel more connected to the situation. Before baby is born, you can read the book to mommy’s belly, and let your child tell the new baby all of the things he wants to teach him when he gets bigger.
Introducing a new sibling to your child can be tough. Start early and always be positive about the situation.
Daddy Nickell, father of 6, founder of Daddyscrubs.com and the Daddyscrubs parenting blog