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Help Your Firstborn Become Friends With The New Baby


In an insightful exploration of sibling rivalry and its impact on the older child, Kyla Boyse from the University of Michigan says that the stressful experience an older child undergoes upon the arrival of a new born is a natural outcome based on a complex set of emotional responses. Boyse cites a creative hypothesis which drives home the point extremely well :

"To get a sense of how your older child might feel about the addition of the new baby, imagine this: Imagine that your partner puts an arm around you and says, "Honey, I love you so much, and you're so wonderful that I've decided to have another wife (or husband or partner just like you." When the new wife (or husband or partner) finally arrives, you see that she is very young and kind of cute. When the three of you are out together, people say hello to you politely, but exclaim ecstatically over the newcomer. "Isn't she adorable! Hello sweetheart...You are precious!" Then they turn to you and ask, "How do you like the new wife (or husband or partner)?"

This is precisely what your older child goes through when the new baby arrives. The focus shifts dramatically. Your older child is no longer in the lime light and now has to play a subservient role.

However, nothing is lost and tons of help is on the way. Our tips and suggestions below will help you create and sustain the warmth and cozy relationship you will eventually expect that your children will enjoy down the road.

Bonding Relationships from Day One

Assembling the building blocks to foster an affable relationship between your older child and your yet to arrive baby should start from the day you decide to have your next baby. Preparation and planning are the foundation stones of sibling relationships which parents need to lay from the very beginning. Here are a few key action steps :

  1. Inform your older child gently that he or she is going to have a little baby brother or sister in a few months. Hearing from you about the baby as opposed from a relative or a friend is a much safer bet.
  2. If you are planning to shift your older child or children to their respective bedrooms, do so at least six months before the new baby arrives so that the older children do not believe that they have been dislodged only because of the new addition to the family.
  3. Plan the transition very gradually to an independent room if you have only one child presently who shares your bedroom with you.
  4. Discuss the impending arrival of the new born with your older child right from the start.
  5. Take your older child with you when you go shopping for baby things.
  6. Ask for recommendations from your older child while planning the arrival of the new born so that a sense of inclusiveness can be nurtured right from the start.
  7. Take your older child along with you a few times to your birthing classes on days when sibling participation is permitted or even addressed in the birthing curriculum.

The ultimate objective is to distance your older child as far away from regression as possible so that your partner and you, as parents, don't have to deal with another layer of stress. The steps we have recommended will help you to sustain the happiness the arrival of a baby will bring into your family.


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