The parents are ready for the arrival of their second child. Even more so, they already know for sure that another little one will soon be joining the family. And the older child needs to be told about this happy event. How can this be done correctly so that the older child accepts the younger sibling not with hostility, but at least with some degree of loyalty?
Jealousy – its causes and manifestations
For the older child, the arrival of a new baby is a stressful situation. After all, they will no longer be the center of the universe for their parents. Attention and time will be divided. Moreover, due to reasons that are quite understandable to adults, the younger child will receive a larger share of attention.
For the eldest child, this situation may not be so obvious and can cause protests in the form of tantrums, disobedience, and a desire to attract attention in any way possible.
If the older child is between 2 and 8 years old, they may develop a “regression syndrome” – the loss of previously acquired and automated skills. The child may start demanding a pacifier, stop using the potty or toilet. This is one of the most dangerous consequences of being unprepared for the birth of a new baby. This condition will require the intervention of a specialist.
But at the same time, the older child may not throw tantrums or be rude. On the contrary, they may show care and attention towards the younger one, offer to help their parents. Especially if they see that such behavior earns them approval and praise.
However, this kind of behavior is not sincere, but rather driven by a desire to get more attention from adults. In the future, there won’t be any talk of love and friendship between the children.
Where to start
First of all, parents need to understand that they can’t keep the pregnancy a secret from the child. Yes, it’s possible, especially if the older child is still young. Preparation should start as early as possible, ideally during the planning of expanding the family.
A conversation in a calm environment can help understand how the only child will react to the arrival of a new baby in the home. Topics could be something like:
- Does the child have friends who have younger brothers or sisters?
- How do they get along?
- Would they like to play with the baby themselves?
- Do their friends have older siblings, and what are their relationships like?
- How will the child react to the baby’s arrival in the home?
These conversations need to happen more than once to determine how the firstborn will react to the family’s expansion. For younger children, the prospect of having a playmate will seem quite appealing. But older children will understand that they will have to sacrifice something from their habits, learn to give in, and become “older” not only in age but also in the number of new responsibilities.
The birth of a child is a family preparation
All parents (both mothers and fathers) worry about how their older child will react to the news and how to prepare them for the arrival of a new little person in the house. Both parents should have conversations with the child, each from their own perspective. It’s important to consider not only the child’s age but also their gender. For example, a father can talk to his son as a man with a man – children are always very proud when adults talk to them “as equals.”
- For children under 5-6 years old, the best way to convey information will be through fairy tales, cartoons, and children’s movies where the main character has younger siblings. Storytelling therapy is an excellent way to approach the topic. However, you need to prepare thoroughly for it so that the child’s projection onto life is correct. It is essential to explain pregnancy and childbirth in an accessible, age-appropriate form, taking into account the psychological characteristics of the firstborn. This way, the child will have a general idea of what to expect in the near future.
- For children aged 6 to 10-12 years old, it’s best to talk openly but without physiological details. Explain that with the birth of another baby in the family, nothing will change in terms of parental love and care for them. Explain why a little less time may be devoted to them initially. The main idea of these conversations is that a sibling will always be the closest and most dear person at any age.
- With teenagers, it’s necessary to talk on equal terms, as with adults. They often understand their parents very well and, with proper upbringing, are ready to support them in everything. However, it’s essential to pay attention to the issue of the comfort zone since it’s crucial for teenagers.
Stories about the infancy of the firstborn with memories of some cute pranks or funny incidents from early childhood will be very appropriate at any age. Joint viewing of old photographs will confirm to the older child their importance and indispensability.
The most important thing is not to build a wall between the children after the younger one appears in the house. It is necessary to always find time for a few minutes of communication with the older one, even in the busiest and most hectic days. A simple conversation alone about school matters, friends, reading a bedtime story, and wishing good night as in the old days will help create an atmosphere of love and mutual understanding in the home. And then the children will become not only related by blood, but also related in spirit, which is incredibly important.
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