Preparations can be tricky.
Another one is on its way, and you are a bit panicky and excited to tell your child that she’s going to be an older sister. How are you going to break it to her gently?
Reaction to a new addition to the family can vary depending on the age of your firstborn. Assuming your child is a toddler, according to experts in child development, sibling arrival may also mean sibling rival. The challenge is how to appropriately explain to your child to the point of understanding and acceptance which can lead to appropriate regulation of feelings to the change that is about to happen.
Here are some pointers on what you should say, avoid, and expect.
Pointer 1: Inclusion matters.
When preparing for childbirth, one of the things that parents do baby-proofing the house and purchasing of newborn items. While doing so, make it a point to involve your child by including him or her in preparation activities like letting your child choose the items and even encourage them to share some thoughts on what to name the baby.
Asking your children to be the one to announce to other people that you’re pregnant is also a useful strategy to psychologically inculcate in their minds that they will soon be the older sibling.
Pointer 2: Solidify the idea.
Children, especially toddlers, are still not equipped with the cognitive capabilities to interpret abstract which is why it is crucial that during the reveal, you make the reality as concrete as possible. Solidify the idea that it is indeed true – a baby is about to arrive in a couple of months. Some of the ways that you can make the idea tangible is making your child aware of friends that also have siblings younger than them. If that’s not possible, there are tons of books about siblings that tackle the subject. Ask them to choose a gift for their younger sibling so the anticipation can be as discernable as it can be.
Pointer 3: Avoid talking about time misappropriation.
Never talk about the new baby as if he or she is going to eat up all your time; this will make the older one feel robbed of your attention. Being set aside or neglected is one of the fears of firstborns have. Be careful of how you discuss the distribution of time when in front of your kid for it may cause resentment on the baby. Also, be sensitive to your child’s emotions and do not disregard how they feel about the addition.
Pointer 4: Be emphatic.
Communication is the best way to practice empathy inside the house. Transition periods are difficult for everyone in the family, especially your kids. Make it a point to know how they feel and think and be empathetic about it. In a non-confronting, subtle way, you can talk to your family regularly to enlighten them of the issues that permeate within the house especially regarding the new baby. Listen to what your child or children have to say about their honest feelings and expectations.
After attentively listening, make it a point to calmly explain the benefits of having another child in the house. Better yet, show them pictures of when they were babies and tell them stories about how much they changed your lives and how the house became more pleasant because of you giving birth to them.
The point to all of these is simply: Never fail to remind your child or children that their presence matters and they will play an important part in the birth of their sibling because they eventually carry the responsibility of looking after their younger sibling.