Elder Child Adjust with A New-born: I once saw a family on the train – a mother with a baby in her arms and a 3-year-old girl. Mom was all absorbed by the new-born, sometimes hummed to him, or talking to the baby, And the baby was responding by smiling…
While it was a happy scene to enjoy. But the expression on the face of a 3-year-old girl was heart breaking. She was sitting quietly.
Visibly upset and bored at the same time. With a loud question on her face. That screamed out… “Mom, what about me?”
How can parents handle this type of situation? How can we ensure that we take our elder child adjust with a new-born when we are raising a little one?
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Children are never asked if they want to have a younger brother or sister. Parents decide to replenish the family without their consent.
And when the youngest child is born, he becomes a rival for the elder, kidnapping at best part of parental love, which previously belonged only to him – the first-born!
I will say from my own experience: the smaller the age difference between the children, the more difficult it is for each other, especially the older one.
More issue for the parent to make the elder child adjust with a new-born.
A baby appears in the house, and the older one, also a small baby, can decide that he was “not good enough”, and so the parents decided to have a “spare” child.
This is confirmed by the fact that almost all parental attention is given to helpless babies.
So how to share attention and love, gifts, and goodies so that no one is offended?
In fact, the recipe is simple: love children not the same way, but in different ways, and qualitatively, not quantitatively.
After all, your children are two personalities. And each of them requires an individual approach and even individual love.
A related article that can help you is attention seeking. Because attention seeing behaviour is one of the common things the elder child does when the elder child adjusts with a new-born.
Things to do before your baby is born
There are few things that you must do to prepare your child for a new-born. When and if done well it reduces a lot of stress and anxiety in your elder child.
There is also better acceptance of your new-born by the elder child. And your elder child adjusts with a new-born smoothly.
TALK TO YOUR CHILD:
Communication is very important. Your child is very young and cannot speak properly but he understands many things. If you will not explain him in a proper way, then he will come to know with a bad experience. And jealousy will creep in and elder child adjust with a new-born becomes difficult.
He might be angry to hear this but do not force him to become happy with this news. Give your child time to realize that he will not be alone anymore.
If you are a working woman and you babysit your child every day, then there is no shame to get help from someone you trust.
By doing this you will be able to make time for yourself and can ease off. You can also use that time to spend with your elder child and have the elder child adjust with a new-born.
BE CAREFUL IN HOLDING YOUR CHILD:
If your child is young, during pregnancy you cannot behave the same way as before. It is essential to keep good posture while holding your elder child.
It is better not to put yourself in danger by lifting your child in arms. Hold him in your forearm or on your hip to avoid the danger of miscarriage.
Explain to your child why you are doing this. And they will be very happy to support you. This will ease elder child adjust with a new-born.
RELEASE THE PRESSURE:
If your first one is very small and not fully independent, then your pregnancy can be very stressful. This stress is not good for you and for your child.
Release this pressure by focusing on yourself and realizing that it is ok if you cannot do everything. Focus on yourself by different therapies and meditation.
Get your spouse to help you with your elder one so there is no resentment and the elder child adjust with a new-born arrival.
GO SHOPPING TOGETHER:
To help your elder child adjust with a new-born. Go to the store together with your child and ask him to choose toys for his future brother or sister.
That way they feel involved and will have loads of questions to ask you. Patiently answer them and let them help you out in shopping.
ASK FOR ADVICE:
Though your child is very small but to involve him in the whole process, you can ask him for advice.
For example, what should be the colour of the new stroller, what should be the name of his brother or sister etc.
The keep is to make your elder child be as involved as possible so that they feel excited to have the baby.
BUY GIFTS FROM THE NEWBORN:
You can buy different gifts for your older child and can give him when you discharge from hospital.
You can even say that the new-born gave these gifts for him. Since he is a new brother now.
Things to do after the birth of your new-born
Most of the time, the arrival of a new baby in the family is a very difficult experience for a child.
Your child may feel jealous or neglected and believe that this new family member is taking his place because now his parents devote a lot of time to him.
It will even fight to attract attention.
So, what worked for me is to throw in a celebration…
Celebrate the achievement of becoming elder brother/sister: Have a small party for your elder one for becoming an elder brother/ sister. In the party invite few friends and loved ones and ensure they bring him gifts and given him advice on how he should be as an elder brother.
Different Ways in Which a child can react to a new-born
A child can react in many ways when a baby comes home. Below are the ways in which a child can react to a new-born…
Sometimes he does not feel threatened by the arrival of the baby at all and continues to develop without showing any disturbance. He can still have certain infant behaviours like asking for a bottle or wanting to put on a diaper, but it is just for the sake of imitating the baby and to gain equal attention.
Angry and resentful
The child aged 1 to 3 is, however, the one who is likely to be the most jealous of a little brother or sister. Indeed, he finds it difficult to share his parents’ attention.
It can go from being excited or proud to jealousy, sadness, or resentment very quickly. He may wish the new-born to be brought back to the hospital and he may even harm him by accident.
He may also try to gain attention by adopting childish behaviour, such as not being clean or asking to be breastfed or bottle-fed.
Green with Jealousy
An older child may show his feelings of jealousy in a little more subtle way. For example, he may hug the baby very tight or falsely accuse him of certain things. If you think it might harm the baby, never leave them alone together.
Overdo their love
Finally, a senior may take their role of big brother or big sister so seriously that they tend to overdo it.
For example, he is possessive of the baby. A child can also be very proud of having a little brother or sister. He then wants to show the baby to everyone and wants to cuddle him constantly.
He shows interest in caring for the baby and wants to participate. A child can imitate his parents by breastfeeding his doll or changing his diaper.
On the other hand, if the older child did not like being the only child in the family, he may view the arrival of another child very positively, seeing him as a friend to play with at home.
WHAT CAN PARENTS DO TO AVOID THIS JEALOUSY?
Do not hope that child jealousy can be avoided. You can smoothen it but cannot completely avoid it.
Let us try to understand the emotions of the elder – the very one who was the centre of the family from birth. Now the elder child adjusts with a new-born. Attention is divided.
To quote an example : When your elder one hears something like: “He is younger, give in to him,” or: “Help me put on my shoes,” while the youngest is only two years younger!
In such situations, the eldest child immediately feels “second grade”, almost a servant of his brother!
An older sibling can harbour a grudge against their little sibling,
She can also offend the baby with annoyance at every opportunity when her parents do not see.
And the younger one in revenge roars louder than usual, complaining about every nonsense.
Understand this power play. And do not rush to scold the elder one.
Remember, the jealousy we experience when we see that our beloved parents are paying attention to someone, not us!
Is the same your little one is also going though.
The elder’s jealousy can appear or reappear when the baby reaches a new stage in his life.
When he learns to walk and begins to interrupt his play, to break his toys, to scatter them or when he learns to speak and becomes able to challenge his big brother or his big sister.
To avoid jealousy and other possible problems in children there are some ways to reassure your older child that you still love him as much as you did before the baby was born.
Respect their emotions
1- Tell your child that you love her as much as before and as much as the new baby.
2- Do not pressurize your child to accept this reality very quickly. Give him time to understand that it is normal for him not to always feel love for the new-born baby.
3- Let your older child bond with the baby. Draw his attention to the way his brother or sister reacts to voices, grimaces, hugs …
4- Read stories about families who have just welcomed a baby and talk about how the birth brings them together.
5- Let your oldest child live like a child his age. Just because he is grown up does not mean you have to ask him to think ‘big’. Allow it to stay small.
6- Let him express his feelings of sadness or anger but tell him that you will not accept any violent gestures towards the baby.
7- Give him responsibilities. Give your older child responsibilities so that he feels he has a role to play. For example, ask her to go get a washcloth for the baby. Show her how to carry the baby safely.
8- Give him a doll with clothes so he can imitate you when caring for your new-born baby.
9- Emphasize the importance of her new role as a big brother or big sister. Tell others in front of your older child how much your older child is helping you take care of the baby. However, do not just compliment him all the time on this topic.
10- Play together: Try to spend time with your senior one-on-one. Talk together, cuddle him, participate in his favourite activity
11- Do family activities. For example, you can go to the park, pick apples, or go for a walk. Even if the baby is not an active participant and remains in the carrier throughout the activity, it strengthens a sense of belonging to the family.
12- Read books together. Involve the whole family in this activity. Let everyone choose their favourite book and select one for the baby. If your older child can read already, let him read aloud if he wants to.
13- Let your child play with the baby under your supervision. He may wave a rattle to get his attention, play “peekaboo” with a blanket, lie next to him, or chat with his little brother or sister. They will thus develop an emotional bond.
14- When your baby is sleeping then try to keep your elder child busy in different activities. For example, you can ask him or her to help you in the kitchen or to arrange a messy room just to keep your child busy.
15- Let your elder one help you with giving bath or massage for your little one. A little bit of skin to skin contact is very important for the bonding of your children.
Remember that the most important thing is not just to devote a lot of time to him, but rather to spend quality time with him, where you are fully available.
This will reassure him of the love you have for him.
The father can devote more time to the elder when the mother needs to take care of the new-born. They can also be grandparents or other family members.
The important thing is that your older child does not feel isolated or rejected.
How to overcome conflicts between children?
- Analyse your attitudes towards children. Which of them are you closer to emotionally? Do you associate special expectations with any of them? Do you tend to blame one child more than another? If such allegations seem justified, this may indicate your bias. Work on that for peace in the long run.
- Try not to intervene immediately if the children are not at risk of injuring each other. Let your children resolve their disputes on their own.
- Demand that children ask each other for permission before lending a thing. Help the children pinpoint the boundaries of their own territory – what is intended for general use and what belongs to each of them.
- Train your collaboration skills in a relaxed atmosphere. Together with the children, try to recall the quarrel that has already been resolved and the main steps to resolve the conflict, praise both sides for the efforts made.
How to unite children?
First, by common deeds and responsibility for each other.
Remember, Jealousy can be stronger if the children are same-sex or the oldest child is a boy.
This is not surprising, because girls have a subconscious need to take care of the baby, it is easier to involve them in caring for him.
Over time, if parents are forgiving, nurturing and consistent, it will help, children to cope up with their feelings and become friends.
A small Story
A friend told how she went to the cinema with her children.
The crowd of incoming people suddenly moved forward, and the children were a bit ahead of her.
She said that they could not see her, but she was keeping an eye on them.
She was surprised to see that the elder son held his sister’s hand, pulled her to him. The little one implicitly carried out everything that he told her.
They began to comb the premises, one looked to the right, the other to the left … she stood aside, watching the children. They became a single organism, one family!
As parent it is important that we build strong bonds between the members of the family. There are many ways to do it one such is eating with family. Read all about it in our article eating with family.
Note to Parents
Can jealousy be prevented? Give it a try. Just keep in mind that sometimes the effect is the opposite.
The symptoms of jealousy described by me may well arise during the “preparation” for the appearance of a younger one. If you do not tell the elder that he will have a gaming companion.
The kid will be very surprised to see a screaming bundle instead of an independent person like him.
So, educate your older child early on. Tell him first what a new-born looks like, show photos of where he was little, and then grew up and learned to sit, walk …
Look for opportunities to create situations that require collaboration.
Any activity with a common goal will do. For example, they can put away their toys together or help each other get dressed for a walk in the park.
Set aside at least half an hour a day when the little one is sleeping. Talk to your elder one. Have one on one time.
Assure him of your love and explain to the elder that the little one is too small and needs a bit more attention for some time.
And of course, no matter how the elder looks, at three and at five he still is a baby too.
Fight the urge to demand from him that which you would not have thought a couple of weeks ago.
Teach the elder one to play in a safe way: for example, blow kisses or tickle the baby’s palms.
When the younger one gets ready to have solid food, get your elder one to spoon feed him when you introduce solids.
Avoid comparisons with the older one at all costs! I repeat this again, because the same attitude towards children, in which they must be convinced and convinced, is the most important thing in your family work.
Do not ask your child questions like: “Why can’t you clean your room like your brother? “Because he thinks you love him less than your younger child.
Many couples must manage pregnancy when they already have a child. Managing time and taking proper care of your older child during pregnancy and after birth of a new-born can cause fatigue for a mother.
Tell your child about this as soon as possible to avoid jealousy and other problems. So, your Elder Child Adjust with A New-born and begins to love this baby already.
Growing up together, children gain a lot of valuable life lessons: they learn mutual assistance, they get used to sharing toys, attention from their parents, they learn the benefits of cooperation in comparison with constant rivalry and quarrels.
Children who have grown up with their brothers and sisters find it easier to socialise in life later. And more quickly.
I will tell you more: there is nothing to worry about in the rivalry between older and younger children, if it is constructive. It helps in building their personality.
Parents should not forget, even in the most difficult and critical moments, that this is partly a rivalry and a competition that helps brothers and sisters grow.
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Do you think your elder child will adjust with your new-born? Leave your reply in the comments below…