When Three Becomes Four: Helping Your Older Child Adapt To Having A Younger Sibling

siblingsIf your new baby has an older brother or sister, you may be wondering how the two will get along.

Traditional wisdom says the two will have their fair share of sibling rivalry.

There are steps you can take, however, to help the two new siblings develop a strong, nurturing bond.

One of the most important things you can do for your older child is to encourage them to adopt a nurturing role. It is important for everyone in a family to care for the other members.

Teaching your children how to respect and care for others not only helps minimize problems between siblings, but prepares them for more effective relationships as they grow and mature.

Nurturing means more than just grabbing the diaper when it’s changing time, or helping with the laundry, although those can be important ways of helping the family as well.

Encourage your older child to interact with the younger child in age appropriate ways. Much will depend on the age difference between the two children.

When your younger child is upset or crying, encourage the older child to try soothing the younger one. Older children can sing songs, make silly faces, offer a pacifier, hold the baby, rock the baby, and possibly even feed the baby.

Older children can read to younger children, play with them, help dress them, perhaps even help with bathing once the younger child is a little older.

The important thing is to help the older child see this small, vulnerable person as someone who needs him, not as someone who wants to take over his role. The older child has a new important role to play.

Be sure to recognize when your older child is exhibiting behavior you want to encourage. Positive reinforcement will go a long way towards encouraging the right kinds of behaviors.

Also be sure that your older child is getting plenty of your attention as well. This can be hard when you are caring for a newborn because caring for a newborn is very time consuming. Even when the new baby is asleep, there are things which demand your time.

However, it is always a good policy to put people ahead of “things.” Spend a little one on one time with your older child each day. Let them know that they are still important to you.

Posted in: Baby Care

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  1. Great advice! All of the girls in our office have 2 or more kids and it is so important to be prepared before the 2nd child arrives to help avoid sibling rivalry. Most of us found preparing the older sibling by reading to them stories about what changes are going to occur in the home is one way to help prepare them for the new arrival. Our other success tip is to ensure that the older sibling is encouraged to become mom’s little helper and gets involved in their new special role as the big brother or big sister. They can become like mom’s assistant and being closer and what would appear even more “special” in their new role should help.

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