You are anxiously awaiting the arrival of your second child. You are so excited for your oldest to have a sibling; someone to play with and love. All of this is tainted, however, when a friend of yours tells you how their child dislikes the new baby and is demonstrating signs of new-baby jealousy.
You are now worried about this happening to your children. Is new-baby jealousy inevitable? Is there a way to prevent it from happening?
“Yes,” says Maureen Einfeldt, mother of 10. “There are ways of preventing this from happening.” When asked how to combat new-baby jealousy, Maureen gave these tips:
“Even while the baby is still in your womb, talk to your child about when you were expecting them,” Maureen said. Tell them stories about when you felt them moving around, and let them feel your belly, as well. Involve them in naming the baby. In doing things like this, it will both get your child excited about the new addition, but also make them feel special and loved.”
Avoid using a negative tone when referring to 'the baby'
“All too often, parents will say things like, 'Be quiet! You'll wake the baby!' or ' Don't touch that! It's the baby's!'” Maureen continued, “In saying things like this, your older child will naturally feel resentment for 'the baby'"
Be gentle in your words toward them (the older child)
Instead of using the words I mentioned before, be gentle in your words. If you need the house to be quiet so the baby can sleep, talk about it with your child, and then make quiet time a good time. You can take this time to read to them, or play quiet games. This way, they will look forward to these times, rather than feeling like they have to be quiet, 'or else.'
Talk to the baby — about them. “
Everyone likes to hear good things about themselves. Even more, to hear someone telling another person those good things,” Maureen said. “Take the time, perhaps while changing baby's diaper, to tell the baby, 'you have such a good big brother. He is such a good helper.' This will not only make them feel good, but will reinforce behaviors that you expect out of your child. (It works great on husbands, too).”
Have your older child be the helper
“Tell your older child that this baby is also their baby. Have them be a helper. Let them help get the wipes or a toy for their baby," Maureen added. "In doing this, they will be protective of their baby, helping to form a lasting love and bond.”
Last, but not least: Allow your “big kid” to have times when they can be a baby
“I remember when I came home from the hospital, and I had three children all under the age of 3. I expected so much out of my almost 3-year-old, and oftentimes forgot that she, too, was a baby," Maureen recounted. "I needed to realize that as much as I wanted my oldest to be grown up and help me, she had times when she needed to be hugged and snuggled, just as the new baby. It is important to allow them times like these.”
By taking these small steps, the dreaded “new-baby jealousy,” will be less of a reality — if not avoided completely, and you will be able to enjoy the wonderful new experience that a new little one brings to your family.