As parenting adults there may be times when we need to bend our knees and lower ourselves to the emotional level of our toddlers and children, and one of those times is when bringing a newborn baby into the family.
We know how much we love our children, even our soon-to-arrive surprise bundle, but we may tend to only see it from our angle. But what about our older child – or children? How are they coping with the fact that a newcomer is about to usurp their place as star performer on the family attention stage?
Often they cope through aggression, with acting just like they, too, are babies. But whatever it is they start to do, you can be sure they are watching you to determine if they get a reaction – any reaction, good or bad, will suffice.
The new arrival is causing them to feel threatened. It’s a horrible emotion which is usually quite scary and confusing, too. But you have the power to ensure this emotion never features in your child’s life, that he feels safe in your love and is happy to see the new little fellow you bring home. It’s all up to you!
The trick is to start with reassurance way before baby is born. Talk to him about the arrival of baby. If you are going to need to move him from his bedroom to another because of the baby, then do this early on and enlist his help. Also, do something special for him in his new bedroom so he feels important.
Involve him in decorating the nursery and perhaps let him do some of his amazing artwork to stick up on baby’s wall.
Talk to him about the responsibilities of being the older child. Read children’s books together about bringing baby home.
What he can do
Ask your older child if he would like to help when the baby arrives so that the baby can learn from his older sibling! Chat about what things he could do to help. It’s very important to mention though that your older child is not there to run around after mom and the new arrival. If this situation establishes itself, you could be breathing aggression straight into his lungs, so to speak.
As difficult as the situation of bringing your newborn home to a jealous sibling can be, a little preparation and involving him in the whole event will go a long way.
Make sure he never doubts your love for him and keep telling him how special he is. It will also help if you and your partner each have your own one-on-one time with him, both before the baby arrives and afterwards as well.
Stories about himself
Your older child will love hearing stories about himself, especially ones that make you happy. Before the birth take some time out with him when the two of you can’t be disturbed and tell him about the day he was born and how he had made you the happiest person on earth. Tell him how cute he was and that all he wanted to do was sleep!
All these things will make him feel very important, just like he is, but by doing this he will be reassured of his place and his being loved in the family.