Welcoming the New Baby
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Welcoming the New Baby
Find out how to cope with jealousy and competition between your older child and the new baby.
During the first excitement-packed days of a baby’s life, parents can try to minimize their older child’s jealousy. For children who are old enough to understand, make sure they know that they’ll be having a new brother or sister, and explain what having a baby around will be like before you go off to the hospital and bring one home. Make the best arrangements you can for child care while you are at the hospital. Older children should feel secure and know that they’ll be well taken care of while you are gone.
The first time your older child visits you after you’ve had the baby, plan when he will arrive so that you can make sure that you’ll be able to greet him with open arms. Seeing a new baby in a crib is much less threatening than seeing him in mother’s arms. Having a little gift prepared for your older child is a nice way to show him how much you’ve missed him, especially if the gift will keep him occupied while he visits you in your hospital room. A book you can read to him or a card game you can play together will make him feel special.
Once you’re home, an older child may return to some baby-like behavior, which is perfectly normal. A potty-trained child may suddenly start having accidents. A toddler who’s been weaned for months may want to go back to nursing or demand his baby brother’s bottle. A child with a usually pleasant nature may start to throw tantrums. These incidents are common and prove just how much your older child notices and thinks – he sees that the baby gets regular attention because he needs diaper changes and gets held in mother’s arms when he cries to be fed. If these techniques work for the baby, why can’t they work for him?
As hard as it may be, the best solution to your older child’s behavior is to avoid making a big deal out of it. Tell him how nice it is to be a big boy and stay clean rather than spanking or scolding him because of wet pants. Parents also have to remember that even if an older child doesn’t need constant attention, he needs some personal attention every day, so try to make sure your older child gets some time on your lap or in your arms. Resist the urge to carry your baby around all the time or use every spare moment for getting household chores done. Instead, when the baby is calm and willing to stay in the crib for a bit, give your older child some undivided attention. Let him choose the activity, but you can suggest things that are hard to do when the baby is around, such as playing with a toy that has small parts or reading a book without interruptions. If you feel you must get housework done during your younger child’s naptime, get your older child involved. A lot of kids enjoy helping their mothers in the kitchen or even with household chores… if they get to do the fun parts!
In addition to personal attention, your older child also needs consistent discipline, because this provides a sense of security which is the foundation for his self-esteem. Parents need to establish family rules that provide clear limits while respecting the dignity of each child and they need to share the family rules with their children. Children need to know what is expected of them. They need to understand the rules and limits as well as the consequences of breaking them.
Keep these tips in mind!
DON’T compare children or play favorites.
DON’T interfere in every argument.
DON’T expect your older child to be a babysitter.
DON’T allow your younger child to ruin your older child’s possessions.
DON’T expect your older child to act like an adult.
DON’T fight with your spouse in front of your children. Adult discussions can teach kids problem solving skills, but only if conducted in an adult fashion.
DON’T expect your children to act loving to each other all the time.
DON’T accept violence from either child.