The birth of a new baby in the family is always a happy thing and a just cause of celebration for parents all over the world. But this joyous news could have a different effect on the new baby’s older siblings- while everyone in the family is focused on the newborn for a while, older kids experience a change in their role that can be tough for them. Consequently, most children (especially when they are much older than their new sibling) can feel a bit envious of all the attention that a newborn is showered with.
Fortunately, there are a few tips and tricks that can help make children more comfortable with the idea of a new baby in the house. Here are some of the best of them.
Pictures make things easier and clearer
If children are two years or younger, they’re less likely to comprehend what it actually means to have a new brother or sister ahead of time. Instead, you could try an alternate tactic that’s far more effective – set some time aside to look at pictures of babies and siblings, or at videos of kids playing together. This allows children to form a clearer mental picture of what life with a sibling is like, and prepares them for the newborn’s arrival.
Get them involved in preparing for the baby
Kids older than two years are more likely to feel a little jealous when faced with the possibility of divided attention. To work around this, you could try to include them on your trips to the store when you go shopping for baby necessities and have them join in on the little decisions like the color of the baby’s crib or the new toys that you’re looking to buy for the newborn.
Roleplay is another tried-and-tested method
Some parents find that getting the older kids a doll that they can care for as a brother or a sister has a positive effect on how they react to and behave with the newborn child. Roleplaying helps the older kids practice the art of caring for a sibling, and it gives them an opportunity to figure out how to interact with the new baby.
Try keeping a few things unchanged
One of the primary reasons kids are not always enthusiastic about having a new child in the house is because this often causes huge upheavals in their routines. This challenge has a simple solution – pick two or three things that ensure there’s consistency in the life of your older child before and after the newborn arrives. These could be little things like continuing to read a story together before bedtime, sitting together to eat breakfast, or in the case of school-going kids, spending a half hour going over the day with them.
Throw in some life experience
Above all, it’s the practical life lessons that best prepare children for the arrival of a new sibling. This could include visiting some friends or family with infants, so your kids can interact with them, and see for themselves how babies behave. Even better is spending some time with a friend’s or relative’s family where there is a pair (or more) of siblings so your own children could be an actual part of an environment with brothers and sisters.
By using a mix of these techniques, and by making your kids feel like they’re (kind of) in charge of the new routine you’ll follow when the newborn arrives, you can achieve the subtle yet necessary shift in their attitude, from apprehension to acceptance.