Anticipating the arrival of a new sibling, and getting used to sharing parents’ attention, can be a challenging time for little ones. It can be especially hard for toddlers, as they struggle with ambivalence around wanting to be a baby again, but also wanting to fulfill the developmental task of autonomy, and doing things by themselves. Parenting at this point in time needs to be particularly gentle, patient and empathetic.
What parents can do to support little ones with the arrival of a new sibling
Parents can support little ones in experiencing a feeling of control over the situation by giving them added predictability. Explain your pregnancy in a child-friendly and age-appropriate manner, and explain what will happen once baby arrives. You could show them some care-taking activities by using dolls to make things more concrete. Part of additional predictability is also slow transitioning into new ways of doing things. Think and plan ahead regarding what you will handle and what your partner / husband / wife / nanny will be handling, so that a slow transition can take place for your little one. This will help them to adjust to these new ways of doing before baby arrives.
Additionally, you could get your little one a special doll so that they can take care of their own ‘baby’ in parallel once their sibling has arrived and you are caught up in care-taking responsibilities. This will help them to feel part of the process, and will reinforce their feelings of mastery and control over the situation.
If your child seems open to it, involve them in care-taking responsibilities regarding the baby as well, and ask them to do easy little things for you, such as fetching something, or singing a lullaby with you.
Praise them for any good behaviour you observe – make sure praise is specific, and in the moment.
Spend extra one-on-one, very present and very nurturing time with them to fill their emotional tank, and to create a feeling of emotional and relational abundance.
Would you like to find out more?
Contact me for more information about helping your child transition to becoming an older sibling, or to schedule a session.