Are you expecting this year and wondering how the transition to having TWO kiddos is going to go for your older child? I understand that worry! If I could pick the one thing that families tell me surprises them the most about postpartum with #2...it is that the care of their first born or older children is the more time consuming than their newborn! I was surprised by this too. I did a lot of things to prepare my first born before his baby sister arrived. He was three, very attached to momma and a deeply feeling kiddo. We talked about how things would be. We read books. We did all the things. I hoped that my preparation efforts would ease any big feelings that would come up. But inevitably...the transition of welcoming a new baby sister into the family was quite an adventure for both him and I. If I were to go back in time and have a little chat with my younger self - I would say the following.
1. Above all, he really needs reassurance from you that you still love him. He needs to know that your feelings for him haven't changed nor will they ever change. It’s important to recognize that this transition is a really hard one for your child! Often we hear about an older child being "jealous" when a baby is born and joins the family. But think about it as grief - because they are suffering from a loss in their role in the family. Switching the word jealousy (which is a negative judgement on our children) and instead empathetically and compassionately understanding they are grieving...can be a massive perspective change that guides our interactions and conversations with them. They need our love, reassurance and support. 2. Welcome all feelings. They are normal and okay and temporary. In little people - they are often unable to verbalize their thoughts and emotions. So big feelings - especially leading up to the birth and for several months after the baby arrives - normal behaviour will look like limit testing, more emotional moments than usual, tantrums and meltdowns over seemingly small things. (You know how this looks, they pick something small to let their feelings out on like being given the blue cup instead of the red cup results in a fountain of tears.) This is all developmentally appropriate behaviour for small children. It doesn’t mean there is anything wrong with them, that you’ve failed them as parents, that you’ve ruined their life in any way or that they won’t or don’t love their sibling. Realistic expectations for our children is so important. Accept all emotions and let them be. This is important for us as adults too!!! But especially for our children. And especially during this time. It’s supportive to take the pressure off of our kids to feel a certain way...like being excited about their new sibling. When we validate the hard stuff, it will seem less scary for them. Let them know it’s okay for them not to like the new baby sometimes and to be mad that mommy needs to hold the baby a lot. It’s all healthy and normal. I hope this helps!
With light, love and warmth, Amy
P.S. - If you are pregnant and wondering how you can best prepare to support your little one through this big transition - send me a message with the contact form below with "Yes that's me!" and we can talk.