Helping Older Siblings Adjust to the New Baby
Congratulations are in order if you have just welcomed a new bundle of joy into the family. While this is a time for a lot of excitement, it is also a time for a host of changes when it comes to family dynamics. Especially if you have an older child, you sure don’t want him or her asking you when the baby is going right back into your belly. Here are some ways that you can help the older sibling adjust to the new baby. With a little bit of effort, you could help the child develop a loving relationship with her sibling.
Be prepared for mixed feelings
Sure enough, you have spent a lot of time building expectations for the child on the fun that awaits when the new baby arrives. However, the fact is that the arrival of the baby may bring mixed feelings for the older child. After all, the baby is too young to respond to the child and is also consuming the parents’ attention and time. Do not be unduly alarmed if you see the child throwing a temper tantrum. Instead of invalidating his feelings let him know that he is loved and valued. It may help to show the child his or her pictures as a baby and explain how you had to bathe and feed him but now that he is grown up, he is able to do things for himself. This will reassure the child that he received similar attention as an infant and that as the baby grows up, he will need less of the parents’ time and attention.
It may, however, prove counterproductive to pressurize the child to love the baby. If done right, love is an emotion that will naturally flow.
Ensure the older child gets attention
It is only natural that the infant gets a whole lot of attention. Whether it is guests who are coming to visit or someone clicking photograph of the child’s numerous expressions. Be mindful, however of including the elder child in the activities. In fact, when possible spend some time exclusively with the older child so he feels special. You could also encourage the older child to help with chores related to the infant if he is up to it. However, do not force him to do it or shame him if he is unwilling to get involved.
Do not unduly pamper the older child
It may be a natural instinct to overindulge the child with his favorite things to make up for the lack of time that you are being able to give him. A word of caution here; do not overdo it as it will lead to a sense of entitlement and may lead to him becoming very demanding. Stick to the established, reasonable limits. However, alongside the responsibilities that come as an elder sibling, you could also make him see some special privileges that he enjoys by virtue of the fact that he is older. So, while the infant sleeps early, his bedtime is not until 8:30 pm.
Teach the child how to interact with the baby
Demonstrate actions that are gentle and that the child can safely perform with the baby. Ensure you reinforce positive behavior when the child displays it. At times that the child is seen handling the infant roughly, resist the instinct to scream the child or shame him. Instead, show him how it can be done better. Reading stories about siblings and the child’s new role can also go a long way in presenting positive role models for the child.
Bringing a new baby home can sure turn out to be a hell of a ride in the initial phases, what with the sleepless nights and an elder child to manage. Do not however lose sight of the fact that this is a temporary phase and that having a sibling, among other things, will teach the child many important life lessons. Not to mention the fact that the sibling-bond is one of the purest bonds, one that could stand the children in good stead through life’s trials and tribulations.