Welcoming a bundle of joy into your family is a time of great excitement, but it also brings about changes that may not be that pleasant to deal with. If you already have a precious little one, worrying about how they’ll feel about the new addition to the family is perfectly understandable. Children, particularly at a certain age, are prone to bouts of jealousy and they may not warm to their sibling from the get go. This can be hard for parents to handle, especially since they’re also adjusting to the new family member themselves.
Read on for a few handy tips that can help you overcome this stressful time. Remember, it’s just a phase and all kids grow out of it with the help of their loving parents. Soon enough, they’ll be as thick as thieves and teaming up against you!
How a child feels with a new sibling in the house
Your child may have been eager to meet their new sibling while you were expecting but their demeanor has changed when you brought the baby home? This often happens as they try to accept the reality of this huge change.
Firstly, it’s likely that the family’s whole routine has been turned upside down. Children are creatures of habit and they’re highly sensitive to changes in their schedules. These breaks with their normal routine may make them feel confused and insecure.
Babies require most of your time and attention, so it’s only natural for the older sibling to feel like they have lost their parents to the newborn. This often triggers intense jealousy, which can manifest itself in different ways. For example, they may misbehave in an attempt to get you to pay attention. Or, they may regress by acting like a much younger child – again, the point is to get your undivided attention back. Sometimes, children also exhibit aggression toward the new sibling.
Some children are more adaptable and they’ll take to the baby straight away while others are more sensitive and will need more time. You can help a lot by reacting to sibling jealousy the right way. Here’s how.
What to do to help your child adjust
Seeing your eldest having trouble adjusting to the baby can be heart-wrenching and frustrating. However, with some patience and a solid strategy, you’ll be able to overcome this as a family.
1. Spend time with them
Shower them with attention as much as possible to show them that they’re still a part of the family and as loved as ever. Make sure you have some one-on-one interactions doing what they love, like spending a day out at a cool trampoline park.
2. Make them feel more grown-up
Being the older sibling means you don’t have your parents’ undivided attention, but it also comes with some nice perks most children appreciate. Since the baby’s here, this means they’re not the baby anymore. Now they’re the “big boy” or “big girl” and this gives them that special something.
3. Get them involved
Invite them to help out with the baby. For example, they can assist while you’re giving them a bath by handing you soap or a towel. If they’re up for it, they can even hold the baby with your help. It will make them feel important.
4. Understand their perspective
Look at the situation from their viewpoint and be gentle with them even if they’re acting out. Invite them to tell you about their feelings and acknowledge what they say. Show them that you understand what it’s like and that you’re doing your best.
5. Take your time
While it is a good idea to have the children spend time together, don’t force the older child into it if they don’t feel like it. Ignoring the baby is still a step in the right direction if tantrums are what you started off with. In time, they’ll warm up to them more and more.