You must have heard the terms, ‘sibling rivalry’ and ‘sibling jealousy’. If you are expecting a new baby soon, it is time to take action to prevent this behavior.
It is critical to start before the baby is born, so that the transition is less stressful for your firstborn. Here are some tips you can incorporate in your daily life to reduce the possibility of sibling rivalry.
Before the baby is born…
- tell your child s/he will be a big sister/brother. You can connect your due date to a holiday so that your child understands how soon the baby will arrive.
- explain to your child how babies are different – for example, they need help to do things that your older child can do herself.
- go through your first child’s baby pictures with your child so that she has an idea of what babies are like. You can also explain that you will be carrying a new baby a lot, just like you did with your first child when she was a baby.
- get your child excited for the time you will have to spend apart while you’re in the hospital. Prepare her by letting her know who will be taking care of her and what fun things they will do in that time.
After the baby is born…
- you can prepare a gift ‘from the new baby’ to your older child when she comes to visit you in the hospital. Tell her that baby loves her older sibling and is happy to have her as a big sister/brother.
- explain baby’s behavior to your older child – for instance, if the baby grabs her sibling’s hand, it’s a way of showing love
- assign your older child some baby tasks to feel more special and important – for example, ask her to bring a new diaper, inform parents if there is an alert on baby monitor, or help bathe the baby.
- praise, praise, praise.