With the birth of their second child, many parents make a common mistake and focus so much attention on the new baby, they forget their firstborn.
The older child is likely to view their new sibling with jealousy and contempt if this happens, feeling as if the baby is separating them from their parents and taking all the attention. This may cause the child to feel unloved and sibling rivalry is likely to occur as the two grow.
Try these three methods to keep your first child involved with the second and harbor love between them instead of resentment.
- Encourage Bonding. Give your firstborn opportunities to be with the baby and touch the baby. Show them how to be gentle with the baby. Depending on how old your first child is, you might even let them hold the baby on the bed or sofa.
- Encourage Participation. Let your older child watch when you feed and change the baby. When you go shopping for clothes as the baby grows, whether online or in a physical store, involve your first child by asking simple questions of the clothes you intend to buy. (Example: “Do you think your sister or brother would like this?“) If your child occupied with something else and does not want to offer an opinion, let them be. Do not force your child to involve themselves with the baby but rather make suggestions and respect the answer your child gives you.
- Explain & Reassure. Sit down with your older child and tell them you still love them as much as you love the baby. If your child expresses resentment that the baby takes up time and has changed the normal routine of your lives, explain the baby is too little to care for itself and needs help. Go through baby photos and show your firstborn he or she was once a baby to.
If your firstborn is only a year or so, do not confuse them with long explanations but rather keep things simple when they ask about the baby. One year-old’s may not even mind a new siblings but remember to keep them involved with the baby as they grow to keep a sibling bond forming and to minimize resentment.
If your firstborn frustrates you and you are struggling with the sudden transition from one child to two, see Three Ways To Resolve Tantrums and Three Ways To Keep Calm With Children for creative ideas to solve the problems.