When you bring a new baby into the house, it's not uncommon for your oldest child to have trouble adjusting. She's spent her entire life being your main focus--and now she'll have to share that attention with a new sibling who requires a lot of care and affection.
If older children start to feel jealous, they might act out, talk back, or disregard or complain about the new baby. Fortunately, if you prepare your child beforehand and help them through the adjustment process, they might end up seeing the new sibling not as competition, but as a friend or ally. Are you preparing to introduce a new baby into your home? Here's some parenting tips to make sure your oldest doesn't feel left out when dealing with new siblings.
1. Prepare Your Child Before the Baby Arrives
Before the baby arrives, sit down with your oldest child and talk to her about what to expect. Explain that she'll have a new brother or sister, and talk to her about the adjustments she might notice in the household. Make sure she understands that she's just as loved and appreciated as the new baby -- you'll be sharing the love, not replacing her with a newer model! If she has some idea of what to expect, it'll make the transition easier when the baby gets home.
2. Schedule Alone Time with Your Oldest Child
When you bring home a new baby, it's easy to get caught up in all the fuss of raising an infant. Taking care of a baby can be a full-time job, but your oldest child still needs love and attention -- and he might start acting out if he feels like he's not getting it. To ensure that he still feels loved and accepted, schedule daily "alone time" with your child to work on a fun activity or talk about your day together. You can ask him about the baby to see how he's feeling. Make sure that some special time is ultimately focused on him.
3. Validate Your Oldest Child's Feelings
At times, your oldest child might feel angry, stressed, overwhelmed or jealous. A new baby can be stressful for everyone, including the other children in the house. Make sure you understand and validate how your oldest child is feeling. This doesn't mean that you should accept bad behavior, but if she appears to be stressed or upset, ask her why she feels that way. Rather than saying "You shouldn't be jealous," explain that you know what it's like to be jealous of a family member, but you love her just as much as you love the baby. If she feels like her voice is being heard, she'll be less likely to act out later.
4. Create Shared Experiences with the Oldest Child and the Baby
Associating the new baby with stress and jealousy can cause resentment. But if you invite your oldest child to share in positive experiences with the baby, he'll see that having a new sibling can be exciting and fun. Invite your child to play with the baby, share his favorite books and toys, and help you with some minor tasks. Just make sure you're not treating your oldest child like a babysitter or caretaker.