Adding a new baby to the family affects a child in many different ways. Some react with jealousy, some become the helper role, still others want to be the town crier. You need a way to help them cope.
So how do you know what to say?”
Understanding what your child understands about the business of babies is how to determine exactly how to help the adjust to the stranger in their midst.
Babies Meeting Babies
Toddlers’ curiosity makes them easy to prepare and difficult to predict, especially since toddlers aren’t the most patient creatures. Engaging toddler in the preparation and care for baby is essential for smooth transition from being the baby to being the big sister or brother.
This is a good habit-breaking time as well, since now it is time for baby to have blankie or binky.
Off to School
Elementary school-aged children better understand the concept of the baby actually being a person, which can lead to jealousy. If this child has been the baby for four or more years, take particular care to show that the new baby is not replacing her. Plan:
- Special one-on-one time with you, Mate, special adults.
- Frequent updates on baby baking.
- Age appropriate explanations of mom’s changing body.
- Reassurance of status in the family hierarchy.
Again, allowing this child more responsibility toward care for the infant will reinforce that she is a very valued member of the family.
The 10-12 year old may be the most difficult to engage in new baby activity. His general tendency to be absorbed by his hobbies and friends will render him almost inconvenienced by his parent’s new addition. With the identity malaise of being a tween, he will need a little extra attention, especially just after delivery.
As you plan your away-from-baby time, make sure to make a date with your tween to go do his favorite activity. This one-on-one time will be essential for maintaining harmony and reinforcing that he is great the way he is.
The Big Stranger
Teenagers: This breed of pseudo-adult will either be thrilled or be totally devastated, likely on a cyclical basis throughout the baby’s first three years. Take the happy days as opportunity to enjoy your children.
Take the down days to discuss some of the emotional turmoil. You just might find the emotional roller coaster may not be associated with new baby at all.
You know how this happens…”
Adult children may be startled at the entire idea of a new sibling. Don’t be surprised if the initial news is met with any of these:
- Sarcasm about the cause of pregnancy.
- Humor about your age.
- Questions about your understanding of birth control.
- Anger coupled with frustration.
Engage your adult child in the issues of parenting, especially if you are not yet a grandparent. This could be a fantastic on-the-job-training your older child may need to become a terrific parent himself.
It all works out
Babies are a family event. Let everyone partake in the joy of holding a little one and the agony of a diaper change!
How did you tell your children about the new addition? Have you planned what you are going to say?
(c) Ann Marie Dwyer 2008-2011
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