The birth of a new baby may make the older child feel jealous and competitive towards the baby. Some children may also become aggressive, or they may regress due to the changes in the family. Sibling rivalry is common, and it usually begins after the birth of the second child. Research has shown that an older child’s personality can be affected, depending on the way he reacts to the new baby. It is then important for parents to not only prepare the necessary things for the baby, but to prepare the child as well, for the baby that will soon join the family. A child who has been so accustomed to having all the attention may not want to share attention to anybody. Although sibling rivalry may be stressful for parents, there are ways that can be taken to promote a healthy relationship between siblings.
The best time to prepare a child for the coming baby is when the mother shows signs of being pregnant. It is important that you explain to your child that there is a baby on the way. Your child should get used to the idea before the birth of the baby. It is also necessary to avoid changes in the environment that your child is in. It will not help at all if you suddenly have your child start day care or preschool, when the baby has arrived. Your child should have enough time to grasp the adjustment at home before venturing off into a new environment. It may be best to let your child start school a few months after the birth of the baby. This is important so that your child will recognize that he is going to school because of maturity and not because he was pushed out of the house by the new baby.
After the birth of the baby, you may find yourself juggling the demands of caring for a newborn and your older child. It is essential that your child feels that you still have time for him. After the baby has slept, devote a time solely for your older child. This will reinforce that he is still loved and that he has not lost his place in the family. It is all too normal as well, that other family members and close friends will welcome the new baby. To avoid letting your child feel inferior, tell your family and friends to also give attention to your child. If they bring gifts for the baby, ask your child to open the gifts for his new brother or sister. Explain to him that he will also receive gifts during his birthday and other special occasions.
If your child can express his thoughts, try to probe his thoughts regarding the new baby. This is important so you can properly address your child’s concerns. It may also help if you do not interfere with your older child’s “property rights”. With all the new stuff for the baby, your older child still needs his space for his own stuff. It will make him feel secured, and it will also give his self-esteem a needed boost.
Although a new baby may bring about changes in the family, your older child should in no way feel that he is no longer loved. It is a critical time for your older child. Thus, parents need to pay extra attention as to how their child is accepting the changes. Parents need to pave the way for a healthy relationship between siblings, in order to promote a loving and nurturing relationship later on in life.