It is common knowledge that the arrival of a child into a household can bring with it great upheaval. It is well known that partners of new mothers can feel elements of separation anxiety as the mother spends increasingly more time with the newborn. Yet just as the father may feel an emotional shift occurring in family life, so will any existing children. This feeling can be more acute in a child who has no other younger siblings and has grown accustomed to being the sole recipient of attention from his/her parents.
This guide aims to provide some simple steps to help reduce the amount of separation anxiety felt by the older sibling as he/she adjusts to having a new little brother or sister in the family.
Before The Baby Is Born
Educating the older child for the arrival of a new sibling is essential in ensuring a smooth transition. This can help reduce separation anxiety even whilst the mother is still in hospital.
It is best to inform the child about a new sibling just after the pregnancy is known. Encouraging them to ask questions and express their feelings of excitement or anxiety will show that you are attentive to their concerns and emotional needs. Also by making gradual changes in the home and explaining the mother’s physical changes is recommended well in advance of the birth. This will help to decrease feelings of resentment or jealousy.
Show the older child their own baby pictures and talk to them about what they were like as a baby. In particular, discuss baby care routines such as feeding, sleeping, crying and bathing. This will help prepare the sibling for the amount of time mother will be spending with the new baby.
Nearer to the expected arrival time of the baby, allow the older child to buy a gift for the new baby as well as a present for themselves – a keepsake is usually best. Read bedtime stories that incorporate the birth of a new family member. The local library is a good source of children’s books that feature families welcoming younger siblings into the home. You can find books geared towards children of any age. (more…)