Bringing Home Baby: Helping Older Children Adjust to Siblinghood
When a new baby enters the family, several changes occur within the household. Many parents strategically prepare for their new child before he or she is born. From reading books to upgrading the house with safety features, steps are taken
to ensure a supportive environment. Often, in the hustle of arrangements and logistics, parents forget to prepare their other children. Addressing the changes that will occur within their family structure ahead of time is vital to a smoother transition, as a new introducing another life into the home, can alter the emotional dynamics of family members. Parents should make the effort to learn about common behavioral changes that can occur in a household, and be proactive.
With parents fully committed to constant attention on the needs of one or more children, irregular sleep cycles are usually one of the first difficult adjustments.
According to a recent report, the average new parent receives about 5.1 hours of restorative sleep per night during the first year of parenthood. Since most people need six to nine hours of sleep per night, this results in increased levels of tiredness and stress, possibly resulting in less attention to quality time with other children in the home, life’s little details, or even work life.
Before the new baby, the other children in the family accustomed to a certain way of life and level of attention. If there is a drastic change in the parental relationship upon the arrival of a new sibling, older children may attempt to regain the parents' attention through aggressive behaviors. In mild cases, older siblings will express their jealousy by refusing to obey parents. More rebellious children may actually poke or throw objects at the new baby.
While these emotions and behaviors are normal, they can be largely prevented by involving siblings in the welcoming of the child, which can mitigate the effects of sibling rivalry. Parents can explain that the new baby requires its sibling's support, and strive to show no less attention and more affection than usual toward older children, to off-put jealously
To minimize the risk of jealousy, parents can support older children before the new baby enters the home. When the mother is still in the hospital, the father can pay extra attention to the older children. Playing games with the children is a great way to make them feel loved. When the baby is born, older children must be in a positive mood before they meet the newest member of the family. Parents can make the older children the center of the attention by serving their favorite foods while having a conversation. This is also a good opportunity for parents to answer any questions that the children may have. When the children seem happy, the new sibling can be introduced to the family. During the first year after the baby's birth, parents may give older children jobs for taking care of the baby. If they view the child's well-being as part of their responsibilities, the older children may become affectionate toward their new sibling.
Here are some great tips for bringing home a new baby:
Break the news of pregnancy early
Answer all of your children's questions
Show your children their ultrasound photos
Put your older children first for some non-emergency needs
Teach your older children the benefits of growing up
Explain to your children that they have an important role to play in the household