How to stop your child feeling jealous
While you’re feeling excited about the prospect of bringing a new baby home, older children can find it difficult to accept change. Even though you may have involved them in the pregnancy, it can still be a shock to discover that they can’t have all of your attention anymore.
Preparing your child
Children can find it difficult to understand anything that doesn’t directly affect them. Help to bring some excitement to make the first meeting something to look forward to. Before you introduce your new baby to your child, explain all of the good things that will happen to them as a result of their little brother or sister arriving:
- Someone new to play with.
- It means they're a 'big brother' or 'big sister'. Especially good if they have a friend who has an older sibling that your child knows.
- Someone to look after and care for, making them very grown up.
- Someone they can teach things to.
Introducing their little brother or sister
You'll need to decide whether you want to take your child into hospital or wait until you're all home and in familiar surroundings for the first introduction. This will probably depend on how long you remain in hospital after the birth and the age and personality of your child. Going to see you and the new baby may be exciting for them, or they may be a little nervous or worried for you, with the strange hospital and the other new babies. You know your child better than anyone so have a think about what would suit them better.
When it comes to the first meeting, it's important to make your older child feel special. It’s a good idea to have someone else hold your baby when your child first arrives so that you can give them a big hug before they see the baby and they don’t feel that they have been pushed out.
Many parents introduce their new baby as someone who's come especially to see them or someone who’s been waiting to meet them. Perhaps your baby could have a present to give or to encourage sharing, a toy that your baby is too young to play with yet but that your older child could look after in the meantime.
Spend time with them
Be sure to include your older child in activities with your new baby as they may feel as though the new addition to the family is pushing them out of the picture. So tell them that you love them and that they’ll always be important to you. Make them feel involved in their new brother or sister’s life. They could choose your baby clothes, push the pram or buy a present for them.
If your older child is still quite young, be sure to stay near when your children are together, at least until you're sure that your child understands how fragile babies are and that they need to be gentle.
It’s also important that your child gets quality time with you or your partner. In fact your partner could have fun days out with them, which will help them feel special. And if your child starts behaving like a baby, remind them of the fun things they can do because they’re older.
It can take time
Like all things to do with children and babies remember to be patient and take things one day at a time!
The relationship between siblings isn't always a difficult one, some children get on wonderfully from the start. A lot depends on the personalities of your children, but by preparing your child for the arrival of another, you can help them to build a strong relationship from the start.