New Baby Sibling: What's a Parent to Do?
Depending on your position in the family - parent or child- the birth of a new baby can bring different feelings. For the parents it no doubt brings joy if not exhaustion. For the new sibling, it can bring happiness and jealousy. Parents may need to keep in mind the siblings point of view - for every friend you make you make an enemy. But there are things parents can do to help ease the transition and help everyone live happily ever after.
Where does sibling rivalry come from?
All children need and crave the love and attention of their parents. When a sibling enters the picture, one's sense of security and exclusivity is jeopardized. Out of necessity, parents must divide their time and attention among more than one child. This results in feelings of jealousy and anger, and to the illogical fears of being replaced and abandoned. These feelings can exist simultaneously with affection for the sibling and true camaraderie. Siblings who seemed locked in constant battle as youngsters can grow to be the best of friends, mentors, teachers, role models, and confidantes for their sibling mates.
What can parents do?
The following are some strategies for parents to use to ease the introduction of a new sibling and to minimize the turmoil of the ongoing sibling relationship.
- Remember your feelings about your own sibling.
- Don't compare kids.
- Review baby pictures of the older child to put things in perspective and remind/point out that in fact he/she was cared for in just the same way when he/she was born.
- If possible, avoid big changes in family life, such as moving or changing caregivers, around the birth of a new baby - such events can be even more overwhelming. It can also cause the sibling to associate a negative experience or change with the new baby.
- Take this opportunity to discuss the birds and the bees - use books, experts at the hospital etc.
- Look for opportunities in which the sibling can be a participant rather than a competitor in the birth.
- Monitor the gift giving, suggest that friends and family bring the baby and sibling(s) presents or even have people give time - take the sibling for a separate outing.
Reprinted with the permission of the NYU Child Study Center. © NYU Child Study Center.
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