Helping Older Children Cope with a New Sibling
The moment you felt it was safe to share the news of a new addition to your family, you’ve been worried about how your child might take it. You brought special books, talked about it frequently, and even tried to give praise of how much fun it would be for them to be a big brother or sister. Yet, now that you’ve bought the baby home, it doesn’t seem that your oldest is too fond of their new little brother or sister.
You know that you have enough love, time, and attention to give to each of your children. All you want is for your growing family to get along, but you’re not sure how. You don’t want your oldest to be jealous, sad, or to resent the new baby. How do you gain control of things before it becomes a big issue? Here are a few suggestions:
Spend Time with Your Older Children
Now that the baby is here, chances are you ’re running around tending to their needs. Though newborns can take up a great deal of your time, your other children need to know there’s room for them. Whether it’s 30 minutes every night before bed or a dedicated couple of hours on the weekend, your kids just want to know that mom and dad still have time for them. Make sure that during this time you try to focus on them, what their needs are, and what’s going on in their life.
There’s nothing that makes a kid happier than getting praises from mom and dad. What better way to sing their praises than to ask them to help out with the baby? This makes them feel included as opposed to excluded. Whether you ask them to get the bottle, hand you the diapers, or help dress their little brother or sister, they won’t see it as someone “taking their place” but more like someone mom and dad need their help loving and caring for.
It can be hard trying to get your older children to accept their new little brother or sister on your own. So, why not get some support? You can ask family members to help by spending more time with your older children while you nurse or care for your newborn. If your newborn is adopted, you can always click here or talk with your adoption agency about tips or support groups you can join.
Give it Time
Here’s one you may not want to hear, but it may take some time before your child warms up to their new sibling. This is especially true for toddlers and teens. If you start to notice signs that your child is jealous, sad, or frustrated as a result of their new sibling it is important that you don’t force them into a relationship. It can take some time for them to realize that the baby is an addition and not their replacement in the family.
It can be downright heartbreaking to find that your children aren’t getting along, but it is perfectly normal. Fortunately, there are things you can do to reassure your older children that your love for them will never change. With support from others, quality time with each child, and continual praise for their help, it will get better and their sibling bond will be unbreakable.