A child does feel jealous when his mummy gets home the newest member in the family. But there are ways to help your kid cope with these feelings and welcome his sibling
What Causes Sibling Rivalry
It’s not easy for a kid, who has always felt like the centre of everyone’s attention, to welcome a new baby into his home. As siblings get older they show their jealousy in various forms — by arguing, teasing, pushing and even fighting. A four year-old or even a seven year old won’t really understand why he feels this kind of anger and jealousy. He is desperate to win back his parents’ attention. He may react by misbehaving (disturbing when you’re trying to breastfeed, sitting in the baby’s seat and refusing to get up etc).
What to do Before the Baby Comes
When you are expecting your second baby, talk to your older kid about it. Depending on how old he is, explain to him about his little sibling who is on the way. Your belly will be big enough to make it real and he will be able to feel his sibling moving and kicking. If he is a little older, try and get books for him to read about happy families.
It’s important that you explain to your kid what’s going to happen once the baby arrives. Keep it simple like ‘When the little one arrives, daddy will take you to school for a while instead of mummy.’
You have to reassure him every now and then that your love for him will never change.
Ensure that your kid gets involved in the preparation for the baby. Involve him while buying little things for the baby’s room. In fact give him choices when it comes to buying a cradle or anything else and let him have the final word.
A few weeks before your due date, explain to him that you will be going to the hospital and in that period he will stay with the grandparents or whoever else.
Arrange for your kid to visit you in hospital so he feels that he’s an essential part of the family right from the start. Take pictures of him with the baby, giving him the message that this is a special time for him.
When the Baby Comes
Involve your kid in looking after the baby. He will happily do things like holding towels, getting the nappies etc, if he’s encouraged and given a lot of importance. He can sing for the little one.
Ask his advice as often as you can. For instance, ask him which dress the baby should wear today or which hat suits the little one. But if your toddler doesn’t want to help, don’t force it. Sometimes children want to ignore their tiny siblings. He’ll come around hopefully soon.
Try and give your kid some time however busy your are. He should never feel neglected. Set aside some time each day to do things with him, even if it’s only a few minutes of drawing or building with blocks.
Be prepared for misbehaviour or some sort of aggression. Don’t be surprised if your kid tries to pinch the baby and make it seem accidental. Make sure you prevent him from hurting the baby, and when you’re alone with him, encourage him to talk about how he feels. Tell him it’s natural to feel this way and that it doesn’t mean he’s bad. But make it clear that trying to hurt the baby because of those feelings is not right. Don’t humiliate or punish him physically. It won’t help. Counsel him instead.
Never compare your children. Always emphasize each one’s positive traits without making the other feel any less.
Teach your kids to resolve conflicts on their own as they grow.
Prepare your kid for the baby a little in advance