As­sist your first child transition to min­imise sib­ling ri­valry

Great Health Guide - - CONTENTS - Deb Hop­per

Hav­ing a new baby ar­riv­ing is a time of an­tic­i­pa­tion and ex­pec­ta­tion, but for older sib­lings, it can be a time of be­ing unset­tled. This can be seen in the older child be­ing more clingy, wor­ried, hav­ing melt­downs or ‘be­hav­iour’ dif­fi­cul­ties. These emo­tional or be­hav­iour dif­fi­cul­ties are of­ten signs that your older child is strug­gling with the idea of ad­just­ing to hav­ing a new lit­tle per­son in the house. They may not be sure of their role or po­si­tion in the fam­ily or they may feel threat­ened that they won’t get as much ‘mummy or daddy time’ or at­ten­tion as they are used to.

There are some key strate­gies that par­ents and grand­par­ents can help im­ple­ment be­fore the new baby ar­rives to as­sist in the transition of a new baby ar­riv­ing and the men­tal and prac­ti­cal ad­just­ments that hap­pen.

Here are five key ideas to help make the transition to hav­ing a new­born ar­rive home so that your toddler or older child is hap­pier.

1. In­volve your older child in the prepa­ra­tion be­fore the birth. Help them to choose cloth­ing or toys at the shop, in­volve them in look­ing through cat­a­logues, look­ing at prams or equip­ment and talk to them in sim­ple terms about the up­com­ing changes. For ex­am­ple, if you need to buy a new pram to ac­com­mo­date the baby and toddler, talk to your toddler about why you need a new pram. This might sound like, ‘We are look­ing for a new pram be­cause when we go to the shop, we need to have a place for the baby to sleep and a place for you to sit. Look, the baby would lie down here and here is your very spe­cial new seat!’

2. If your toddler will be mov­ing to a big­ger bed to make way for the baby, plan the transition to the ‘big bed’ a cou­ple of months be­fore the baby ar­rives. Make a big deal about mov­ing to a big bed and cel­e­brate this. Mak­ing the transition be­fore­hand is im­por­tant so that your toddler does not feel like the baby is push­ing them out of their safe space/bed as soon as they ar­rive home.

3. Be­fore the baby ar­rives, start hav­ing some spe­cial one on one mummy, daddy or grand­par­ent time, or ‘dates’. Tell your toddler that these spe­cial times will hap­pen now as well as af­ter the new baby comes. You could put these events on a cal­en­dar so they can see them com­ing up. This helps the toddler to know that even though the baby is tak­ing up lots of mum and dad’s time, that there is still spe­cial time planned for them.

4. Buy your toddler a doll or teddy. This can be a spe­cial present from the new baby. Per­haps

wrap it up nicely and the baby can give it to them when they come to meet him or her. You can then use the doll or teddy for your toddler to look af­ter when you are busy with the baby. They can pretend to feed, change their nappy and look af­ter them.

5. Keep your toddler busy and in­volved in lit­tle jobs that are help­ful to you. This could in­clude ask­ing them to pass a cloth or wrap when you are feed­ing or dress­ing, help­ing to bath the baby, fold­ing up baby clothes or car­ry­ing dirty clothes from the bath­room to the laun­dry. Tod­dlers love to please and love to be help­ful, so keep them busy with lit­tle age ap­pro­pri­ate jobs and praise them for their help.

Hav­ing a new­born and a toddler is quite a daunt­ing phase and is a steep learn­ing curve for par­ents as well as lit­tle chil­dren. Ex­plain new things to your child, keep a good weekly struc­ture or rou­tine with out­ings and make lit­tle pock­ets of time to con­nect reg­u­larly with your older child.

Deb Hop­per, Oc­cu­pa­tional Ther­a­pist, au­thor & work­shop pre­sen­ter. She is pas­sion­ate about em­pow­er­ing par­ents and ed­u­ca­tors to un­der­stand the un­der­ly­ing rea­sons of why chil­dren strug­gle with be­hav­iour, self-es­teem and sen­sory pro­cess­ing dif­fi­cul­ties. Deb is the co-au­thor of the CD Sen­sory Songs for Tots, and au­thor of Re­duc­ing Melt­downs and Im­prov­ing Con­cen­tra­tion: The Just Right Kids Tech­nique Model. Deb can be con­tacted via her web­site.

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