When a new baby arrives: A few things to keep in mind to help your elder one cope

“We have a five-year-old baby. And we are awaiting a new child soon. But my elder child seems to be quite unhappy about the entry of his new sibling. These days, he throws tantrums and is quite dull. Our family doctor said he is quite healthy. If that is the case, what is the reason for his strange behaviour at this time when the entire family is extremely happy?” This is a mail that The Daily Brunch received the other day from Anandita Karmakar, a concerned mother from West Bengal.

Well, this seems to be a clear case of what child psychologists call ‘first-born syndrome’ in which the first-born child feels jealous of his new-born sibling because of the fear that the former may lose the care and attention that he has so far been enjoying.  There is no doubt that the entry of a new child is always a happy occasion. But the arrival of a new member to the family will be treated differently by your first child. Sometimes, the elder child may start having some complexes. S/he may feel a bit jealous and left out, thinking that the attention may get shifted from him/her to the newborn. But a little extra care and love can make the arrival of your next child the most pleasurable experience for your elder kid. And it is also very important to help your kid overcome this first-born syndrome precisely because it may later escalate into a very case of serious sibling rivalry. After all, a happy family is all that we wish for, isn’t it? So if you are awaiting a new addition to the family, you have a lot to prepare. Here are a few tips that you can keep in mind when you are expecting a second child.

  1. Tell your elder child that he/she is going to have a friend soon and the new member’s entry will fill his life with fun and joy. Emphasize on the point that with the new baby arriving the first kid will no longer be bored and lonely. In short, you should give your elder kid the impression that he is going to have a playmate or a companion. You can, in fact, give the kid some cues about the entry of the new member. Make it a point to involve your kid in all the preparations that you make for the arrival of the new child. Take the younger one’s help in every little thing possible. For example, you can seek his help in setting up the cradle or installing a new baby seat in the car or for purchasing baby clothes. Give the child a strong impression that the entire family is together going to welcome the new member. You should also tell the kid stories about his baby days and the preparations that you made for his birth. This will definitely excite your kid. You should particularly give extra attention to the elder child during the last months. You do not need to do anything special for this. Just give the child extra care and attention. Provide him or her with some extra cuddles or bed-time stories. Spend some extra play-time with him. And also tell your child that as soon as the baby comes, you guys are going to have more of this fun time. This is going to keep your child prepared for the new kid’s arrival.
  2. Sometimes, your complaints about physical problems during pregnancy may give your elder child a wrong message about the baby’s arrival. When you say that you are tired because of the baby that you are carrying, that may give the child a completely wrong impression about his/her would-be sibling. They may think that a new member is a problematic one. So always remember to keep your talk about the new baby light and positive. You should not tell your child that you are feeling sick because of the pregnancy. Simply tell him you are not feeling well, just as you would if you were sick for another reason.
  3. Once the new child arrives, let the elder one also help you take care of his sibling. This will make your first child feel important. While you dress the baby or play with him, let your young one also help you take care of the baby. This is going to develop his personality and sense of responsibility. Teach your toddler to play with or talk to the baby. You can at times ask him to feed the baby. These are some small techniques that you can employ to establish a good relationship between your elder kid and his sibling. By giving the elder child the impression that he is the big brother, you can really make him feel important in the family. Whenever you see the elder on taking care of the younger one, make it something great. Congratulate him on his loving and responsible behaviour. The child will grow up as a caring and a responsible person.
  4. We know that you may be juggling with many things in your hectic life. But despite your busy schedule, make it a point to spend time with your elder one. Sit with him and have regular talks and play with him. If he comes to you, seeking help in doing homework or reading a story, make sure that you try to do it as you used to do. Lack of attention may lead to serious psychological issues such as depression, throwing tantrums to seek attention and so on. It may seem quite impossible in the beginning because of your hectic work-hours and looking after the baby. But if you try hard, I am sure, you will definitely be able to squeeze in quality time which will help your elder one overcome jealousy and loneliness from the new baby’s arrival.    

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