Bringing Home Baby
Tips on Sibling Rivalry
Whether you’re expanding the brood from one to two or three to five, the family dynamic will change. While you may not be able to quash completely the sibling rivalry that may occur, you can alleviate possible tensions along the way.
Talk it out. Consistent communication is key to building a healthy sibling foundation. As parenting guru Adele Faber says, “What isn’t expressed outwardly just goes into the
subconscious. We can’t banish feelings. Parents do a great service to their children by helping them name the full range of their feelings: worried, jealous, sad, lonely, confused.” Allow them to express their emotions and help talk them through it.
Include them. There are many ways this can be done, depending on your children’s ages and your comfort level. You could bring them to your OB appointments so they can hear the baby’s heartbeat. They also could assist in picking out special toys or clothes for the baby. Olathe mom of two Jennifer Adamous says, “We took our daughter to the hospital with us, and she witnessed the entire labor and delivery. She was almost 2 at the time, and you should’ve seen how wide her eyes got then he came out. Dad was there to hold her and help her understand what was happening.”
Establish a connection early on. Often when another child is born, the firstborn may feel as if her space within the family is being intruded upon. During pregnancy, act as a liaison between the two. When the baby kicks, bring your older child over to feel it. Tell her stories and show her pictures of when she was a baby. Another great way to strengthen the bond is to have the baby give to the older sibling. Olathe mom of two Piper Organ says, “Our baby brought some small gifts for the older sibling, items like puzzles and books. When our older was feeling sad or left out, we’d pull out a gift from the baby to cheer them up.”
Be honest. According to an article on Parents.com, it may be tempting to discuss only the positive aspects of having another baby, but ultimately you’re doing a disservice to the older child. “Don’t create false expectations. If you tell your child the baby will be his playmate, he’ll be mighty disappointed when she does little but sleep, cry and feed for the first year.” Let your older child know it will be a lot of work at first. The new baby will require a lot of attention, but that doesn’t mean you don’t love him any less. Being honest up front will help him adjust later on when the baby comes home.
Sometimes despite your best efforts, sibling rivalry will still occur. It’s a normal, healthy part of growing up within a family. We occasionally fight. We laugh, we cry, we live in close quarters with people that are similar and yet so different from us. It’s a lifelong learning experience that helps guide us in interactions with others outside of the family unit. At the root of it all anyway is love. And that trumps everything.
Jennifer Bosse is a former Kansas City mom. She now lives in Charleston, SC, with her husband, two sons and her three very crazy but amazing siblings.