The arrival of a new baby can arouse many emotions in an older child. And not necessarily the positive ones. Often difficult emotions begin to dominate in the older child: jealousy, a sense of rejection, anger, misunderstanding. How to help the child accept the coming changes?
There is no ideal time to confess the news of the family expansion to your child. It mainly depends on the age of the child – the younger, the later you can tell about it, while older children will immediately catch the differences in their parents’ behavior, and not knowing the source of the different atmosphere can violate the sense of security. However, it is important that this news comes out of the parent’s mouth, and not by accident, for example, during a visit from an overjoyed neighbor who came to congratulate the pregnancy.
Before entering into a conversation with the child, it is necessary to get used to one’s own emotions, look at fears, expectations, thoughts, for the child will absorb our attitude and possible tension. The conversation should proceed in a calm manner, with space to express emotions and ask questions. It is worth outlining the following stages to the child, showing the ultrasound picture, presenting the upcoming changes. The more unfamiliar something is, the more fearful it is. In the case of a younger child, an illustrated children’s book explaining pregnancy and introducing the role of an older brother or sister will be helpful.
It is impossible to fully predict a child’s reaction to the news. It is natural that changes can be difficult to assimilate. After all, the older child will no longer be the center of attention and will have to face the unfamiliar role of big brother or sister. Difficult emotions may arise in the child, allow them. Punishing for jealousy is a terrible idea, deepening the child’s anger and sense of rejection. Don’t project your own expectations, asking why the kid is not happy can be a form of creating pressure. The basis for getting used to a new situation is to give the child space for a mix of emotions.
It’s worth involving the older child in the whirlwind of preparations. Choosing the baby’s layette and decorating the room together with the parents will make him feel like an important member of the family. You can encourage the child to carry on a conversation with the pregnant belly, play house with him and show on a doll how to change diapers. However, it is important to respect the older child’s boundary, as not every child will want to participate in such activities.
Preparations for the baby’s birth must not overshadow the whole world. The older child must feel that he is as important as the baby, and the parents’ love will not fade after the birth. Show tenderness, notice his needs. Talking about upcoming changes is an important part, but it can’t happen all the time. Bring up topics unrelated to the pregnancy and the arrival of a new family member, try to find time every day just for the elder and fill it with pleasant activities.
Do not stir up in the child the element of competition, do not compare. The elder must remember that in your eyes he remains a separate person, do not put him only in the context of an older sibling. It will be a bad idea to implement other stressful changes into the child’s life. The arrival of a new family member is such a big change that you shouldn’t put your child through another challenge, such as changing schools or redecorating a room. Don’t ignore worrying symptoms, respond to aggression and try to get to the source of the anger outburst.
main photo: unsplash.com/Alexander Dummer