How to Prepare Older Children for New Children
“Your life is a story of transition; you are always leaving one chapter behind while moving onto the next.” - Unknown.
In life, we experience transitions. Reaching a significant age, attending college, getting or losing a job, leaving home, getting married, marriage transitions from the honeymoon stage, becoming parents, becoming ill and bereavement are all significant life transitions that are most commonly experienced. Occasionally, managing through these life transitions can be difficult and cause significant changes, impacting our mental health and the individuals who are a part of our lives. It is important to manage significant life transitions because life can seem to continue passing you by and leaving you behind when we do not. We often think about ourselves when transitions occur but in actuality, your entire family may experience the effects of the transition right along with you. For example, growing your family is a transition that directly impacts every individual in your family.
Things to consider are: How well will you handle the transition, how will dad adjust to the new family member, and how will adding baby #2 or #3 impact the other children in your family? Children are often very resilient but adding other siblings can be difficult for a child to manage and understand. Have you ever heard of sibling rivalry? Studies show that sibling rivalries are very common and can occur up to 8 times an hour, as reported by observational studies according to the New York times. Also reported by an article from the New York Times, sibling rivalries are bound to happen and should be expected but preparing for the transition from older siblings to new siblings can help with mitigating sibling rivalries. As parents, we can aid the growth to a more prominent family by prepping our older children for the shift occurring in the family dynamic.
To assist with the adjustment of growing our family. These tips can help make the transition more smooth.
Tips for Preparing out older children for new children
Tell your child about the new baby: be honest, show sonogram pictures, and have conversations about the new baby. All these actions can help prepare the older sibling for the arrival of the younger sibling. Keeping your child informed about the process throughout the pregnancy can help the older sibling feel involved in the process, according to Healthychildren.org. ex) help with picking out new baby clothes, being involved with picking the baby’s name
When the baby arrives: According to Psychology Today, referring to the new baby as “our baby” can be useful with the older sibling to help them with embracing them into the family. It is also recommended that older siblings have a special time set aside for them individually to prevent feeling like the younger sibling is getting more attention than they are. ex) set aside the time of day for the older sibling and name that special time their name, for example (Taylor Time).
Self-care: As a new parent expanding the family can be tiring and requires extra self-care. Awareness of your mental and physical health can be a saving grace for keeping the family healthy.
If you are thinking about expanding your family, these tips can be useful for assisting your older children with family expansion transitions.