Preventing sibling rivalry
Preparing for the arrival of your second child is very exciting. It’s important not only to prepare yourself and your home, but to also prepare your first born, who will soon not be the “only” but the “oldest.”
As part of Maggie Rodriguez’s Early Show “Mom’s Club”, I shared some ideas as to how to get ready for the changes soon to occur at home. I’ve listed things to do “pre-baby” and “post-baby” below, and included the link to the segment below.
- Talk with your older child about the changes that will happen when the new baby comes, while providing reassurance about how important your older child is.
- Discuss openly that you and your partner will be tired a lot more and have less energy, possibly. Remind your older child that the baby won’t be ready to play yet (he/she is too busy sleeping, eating and crying, but will be ready to play soon!) Remind your older child that he/she will have a lot to teach his/her sibling and it’s his/her job to protect him/her.
- Involve your older child as much as possible.
- Let older child help pick out special toys, clothes, decorations for room. Bring your older child to doctor’s appointments and go on the sibling tour at the hospital. Involve your older child in some reasonable decisions that you can accommodate–don’t say he can pick out the name if you don’t mean it!
- Provide opportunities to talk before baby comes.
- Read books together (about becoming an older sibling). Encourage questions and conversation. Practice how to behave around baby (buy the older sibling a baby doll to practice how to hold the baby, teach how to be gentle).
- Find ways to make your older child feel special.
- Discuss the benefits of being older sibling. Provide small special gifts for older child, during the transition. Encourage others to focus on older child too.
- Be prepared for a lot of intense feelings.
- Validate the feelings. Don’t discount them. It might be scary and overwhelming and it’s so important for child to feel safe expressing them. Do also explain acceptable expression of feelings around baby.
- Be careful not to make too many changes at once.
- The arrival of a new baby is change enough. Now is not the time to wean off a pacifier or start toilet training. Regression is possible now too. If your older child starts to act a little bit like the baby, recognize that the changes are tough, and slowly the older child will return to previous (more age appropriate) behaviors.
- Find special time for your older child.
- This is really important for both parents. Don’t want older child to feel ignored/excluded/abandoned. Simple activities can be great to involve child in. Follow your child’s lead with play
Some great books for siblings:
- How to Be a Baby…by Me, the Big Sisterby Sally Lloyd-Jones, Sue Heap ( Illustrator)
- When I Was Little : A Four-Year-Old’s Memoir of Her Youthby Jamie Lee Curtis, Laura Cornell ( Illustrator)
- You’re All My Favoritesby Sam McBratney, Anita Jeram ( Illustrator)
- Berenstain Bears’ New Babyby Jan Berenstain