The first few days after you bring your newborn baby home are priceless. Your elder child dotes over every sound the baby makes. They want to help change the baby’s diapers and they want to hold the baby every chance they get. It’s just as perfect as you had imagined it.
But, after a week or so, you notice your elder child has suddenly become withdrawn. Or, you see them pinching the baby when you step away. Or, they outright tell you that they have played with the baby for long enough and would like for you to return it. That’s when the reality sets in and you realize that getting your elder child to adjust with their new sibling is not going to be a piece of cake. It will require lots of patience, love and understanding from your side to make this new relationship work.
Here are 5 tips that will help you!
- Give them one-on-one attention.
Don’t expect your firstborn to bond with their new sibling overnight. Chances are they will feel bouts of anger and jealousy because they feel like they have been replaced or aren’t getting the attention they once were.
So, it is very important to give them as much time as they need to get used to the idea of having a new member in the family. And, spend lots of quality time with them to assure them of how important they are to you. You can play games, go on a walk or read together just like you did before the baby arrived.
- Let them vent.
If your child feels angry then allow them to vocalize their emotions and share whatever is bothering them. This will really give them a chance to open up and is a good opportunity for them to learn the importance of sharing their strong emotions. Always be there to listen and acknowledge their big feelings and assure them of how much you value them.
- Don’t overreact.
Your child most likely has no idea how fragile a baby is or they are looking for attention so there may be times when they are ‘rough’. They might squeeze or poke too hard. So, it is important to stay calm and not resort to anger during these times. Simply teach them the correct way of gently handling the baby. Don’t forget to praise your elder child when he/she remembers to handle the baby appropriately. Try not to punish them because this will only lead to further resentment. Another great idea is to train your child before the baby comes by giving them a doll which they can care for.
- Create a little helper.
Get your elder child involved as much as possible and let them help in every way they can with the baby. You can even get them involved even before the baby arrives by letting them help with the baby’s room. Once the baby is here, you can ask your elder one to read to the baby or assist in dressing and feeding. As long as it is age-appropriate and not burdensome, your child will enjoy helping and being part of the entire process.
- Discuss the rewards of having a sibling.
Having a baby sibling isn’t the end of the world. It is actually one of the best relationships one can have so make sure you emphasize how great it can be once the baby gets past the extremely fragile stage. Brothers and sisters can learn from each other and can enjoy each other’s companionship well into adulthood. Tell your children they will have a friend for life once that baby grows up.
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ABOUT THE FOUNDER
Internationally Recognised Emotional Literacy & Mindfulness Expert Tenille Bentley is the founder of The Emotional Literacy and Mindfulness Academy and the author of the children’s emotional literacy books with Jazzy and Pinky and The Energy Ball. Giving children a wonderful introduction to understanding their emotions and what to do with them.
Tenille has been featured on Channel 9 News and other major outlets. Her work has been recognized in the community by The Governor of Western Australia, The Prime Minister of Australia and Australian Financial Review.
As a child, she experienced severe anxiety and emotional traumas as well as bullying which left her feeling isolated and unable to understand why she was feeling the way she did. As an adult, this impacted her ability to make healthy decisions because she didn’t have the tools to understand her emotions.
This is why she is passionate about equipping parents with the tools to support their children to make better decisions in life and healthy ones to help support and create a balanced home life.