Children can have conflicting emotions in regards to the impending arrival of a new sibling. They may feel ecstatic at one moment and jealous the next. Children may have concerns revolving around fears their parents will no longer love them as much with a new baby around, or that the parents have “replaced” them with a smaller, cuter version. The sudden lack of attention from their parents, who can be consumed with the challenges of caring for a newborn, may be difficult for them to deal with. Children may feel territorial regarding their space and feel the baby has invaded their private domain, especially if the new arrival means they now have to share a bedroom either with the baby or another sibling. And of course, some children love becoming a big brother or sister, show protectiveness and nurturing, and enjoy learning to care for the baby.
Ideas for helping older siblings-
Set aside special one on one time with the older sibling(s)
Include the siblings in caring for the baby in an age-appropriate way, or explain what the baby is doing, what the baby can see, hear, and understand at this stage of development.
Praise the children’s nurturing instincts and gentle behavior. Be sure to also acknowledge the validity of more difficult feelings, such as frustration or sadness at not having the same kind of attention and daily routines as they used to.
Change can be difficult, especially for children. Remember to meet your child where they’re at, and give them time to develop their own love and bond with their new sibling. Take extra care to remain gentle and evoke a loving environment to help your older children navigate this journey.