8 Simple Strategies to Help Children Adjust to a New Sibling
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I am the first born child in my immediate family (I do have half siblings, but when it comes to my mom and dad, I am the first born). When my sister was born, my dad picked me up so I could see her in the nursery. In response, I proclaimed, “Take her back!” Apparently, I wasn’t ready for a new baby sister. However, I don’t remember anything about how I adjusted to it. I was only about 3-years-old at the time. I did adjust to it, and we became close. We still talk. 🙂
Thus, bringing home a new addition to the family is a big change for children who are already in the home. The mother will likely devote a lot of time and attention to the new baby, which may result in the older child feeling resentful of all of the attention being devoted to someone else.However, it can also result in some positive, more mature behaviors.
Positive and Negative Reactions to a New Sibling
- The older child may regress to “babyish” behaviors such as clinging, crying, and toilet accidents.
- Anger and naughtiness may increase. This may come from the attention being given to the new baby and a desire to get any sort of attention from the parents. It may also be that they don’t feel as important.
- Children may also show mature behaviors in response to a new sibling. For example, the child may insist on doing more things for themselves such as feeding or dressing themselves. The first born child may also want to help with the new baby whether it by feeding the baby, holding the baby, etc.
What can Parents Do to Help Children Adjust to a New Sibling?
- Explain in advance what is going to happen, as this can help reduce sibling rivalry. As a parent, I would explain what the new role of the older sibling will be, as well as the kind of care that is needed to take care of a new baby. One possible way to do this is to read books on being a big brother or big sister.These two books can help children understand their new role and how they might be able to help when the new baby comes along.
- When the baby is born, bring your older child in to meet the new baby. This may help make this more of an intimate family experience.
- Parental support is extremely important. When the parents spend time with their older child after the baby is born, the child expresses less distress over the new baby. Make special one-on-one time with the older child, which may involve going out with mom or dad while the other parent stays home with the baby.
- When the baby is brought home, include your child in as many activities as possible that involve the baby. This can help the child not feel so left out. This might involve asking the child to grab some diapers and wipes or helping feed the baby.
- Encourage the child to express their feelings about the new baby. Even if they can’t express those feelings, acknowledge those feelings by saying, “I know it may be hard that Mommy has to spend so much time with the new baby. “
- Praise and encourage your child whenever they help with the new baby.
- Handling regressions can be tough. This article has some excellent suggestions- When Regression Comes with a New Sibling.
- Discuss the positives of having a new baby sister or brother. For example, this is someone that the older child can play with and talk to. In addition, the older sibling can serve as a role model and teach the younger sibling new things.
Final Thoughts on Helping Older Children Adjust to a New Sibling
As a parent, it’s important to help the older child still feel special and important when a new baby comes along. Reassure the older child that you still love them and are special. Set aside one-on-one time just for the older child. With time and patience, it will get easier for everyone.
What tips do you have for helping older children adjust to a new sibling? Comment below!