When we brought our youngest home from the hospital four years ago, his older brother — 22 months old — had an interesting response.
“Baby leave,” he told us.
That didn’t happen.
This is one of those right-of-passage moments for all kids and all families — dealing with the jealousy and resentment, and hopefully excitement, of a new sibling.
Here’s how to deal with it.
1. Talk About It
Most importantly, you must prepare the older sibling for what’s about to occur. Speak to them early and often about the new baby, show them sonogram pictures, and let them help pick out items for the baby. If you involve them in the process, it will make them feel more invested and comfortable with it.
2. Keep a Close Watch
Once the new baby is home, you will need to keep and eye on your oldest to make sure she is behaving properly around the baby. Kids sometimes act out in surprising ways.
3. Be Hands On
Despite the tip above, it might make your older child feel special if you let her “hold” the baby. Help her to see that her little sibling is just like her, only smaller. And now, she has a lifelong friend to play with, and share her life with.
4. Show Him How His Friends Are With Their Siblings
If your child is having a hard time dealing with a little sister or brother, try to show him examples of his friends who have siblings, and who play and have a great time together.
5. Try to Be Understanding
We’ve all heard stories about children regressing once a new baby enters the scene. It’s normal and natural. Be open-minded and try to remain calm, no matter how frustrating it gets. They are just kids, after all.
6. Spend Alone Time With Your Oldest
It’s vital that you try to schedule some alone time with your oldest child. They’ve been used to being the sun, moon, and stars in the house, so expect them to have a challenging time giving up all that attention. Build in some activities for you to do alone with your oldest to give them the attention they crave.
7. Realize It’s Emotional for Everyone
When my wife and I were in the hospital after our second child was born it really hit us. We had just upended the life of our oldest and it was no longer a family of three, but a family of four. It was a joyful moment, but also wistful. We had no regrets about adding to our family unit then, but we also knew that a door had closed. It was important for us to realize that moment, live in it, discuss it, and move on.
Have you encountered this? How did you handle it?