Positive relationships within the family home are essential for mental health and wellbeing. Arguments and conflict are likely to reflect chaos and stress. It is difficult for children when siblings arrive, when all they have ever known is them and parents. When a sibling arrives it marks the start of a new learning path; social skills, sharing, turn taking and looking out for one another to name a few.
It can be stressful on parents as they near the arrival of their second child, the anticipation of how it will affect their first born; will they settle in ok? Will they feel pushed out? Will they be upset? Will they love them? The fact is, that there are likely to be some disturbances, a new arrival is a new learning curve for adults as well as children.
The good thing is there are lots of great things that you can do things to help begin to build positive relationships between siblings even before the new arrival;
- Begin to talk about the new baby as a family unit – refer to him/her as ‘our baby’ and ‘your brother or sister.’ This gives them ownership over the baby and gives them an immediate sense of involvement as the new baby is being referred to as a part of the family already.
- I am a huge advocate of reading for many reasons and reading a good book before bedtime is a fantastic way to build a trusting relationship with children. Introduce books that tells stories about new siblings, this way it gives them a sense of perspective on what to expect. Through characters they can learn about new feelings and how they dealt with them.
- When you introduce the baby for the first time leave them in their moses basket/crib. This way you can give your little on a huge cuddle first before introducing the new baby together. This gives huge reassurance that they still get cuddles.
- You could always buy your little on a gift as when they new baby arrives families are often inundated with well wishes, cards and gifts. Include your little one and buy them a small selection of presents that they can have daily whilst it is all still very new. This will also help Mum out too – long feeds and close contact with a newborn makes it hard to devise time for your little one so a small gift that occupies them for half an hour daily can help until you find your groove.
- I am a huge fan of giving children responsibility. Obviously, this has to be age dependent but making your little one feel they are needed in helping with the new baby gives a huge sense of pride and reassurance. Simple things like collecting a nappy, passing a bottle or helping at bath time can increase as they get older to the point where they will feel they want to do these things instinctively.
- Set aside some time alone with your little one. A walk in the park, bath time or even a quick tv programme. This makes sure they don’t feel they have to attention seek to have time with you and it makes them feel special.
- Do things together as a family, bath time or singing a song. Time together as a family creates unity and long lasting memories.
Laura, Babbaboo Sleep.
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