My mom is a play school teacher. And quite possibly the best one I’ve ever seen. From an early age, I would go and visit her at her school and watch the unconditional love and attention she would shower on the children in her class. One thing that stood out so much was the way she encouraged siblings when they heard the news that they were going to be getting a brand new brother or sister.
I’m the baby of the family so haven’t had to handle the thought of someone newer and cuter coming along to steal the lime light. Growing up as the only girl in the family on both sides, I received lots of extra attention, and Oh Boy! Did I love it!
But where there is a youngest sibling there must always be an oldest sibling. As much as it’s a treat to be getting a brand new baby brother or sister to play with, suddenly Mommy and Daddy’s love and attention will have to be SHARED. Toys will have to be shared. Bath time and meal time will have to be shared. Perspective changes and suddenly you are the big one, the older sibling and no longer the baby of the group.
So how do you prepare your little one for the prospect of going from only child to oldest child?
Here are some tried and tested tactics from my mom:
- Encourage your child not by telling them how lucky they are to be getting a baby brother or sister but instead how lucky their new sibling will be to have them as their older brother or sister.
- Empower them to feel proud to be their older sibling, and include them as much as possible in the daily activities involving the baby so that they don't feel left out. If they feel useful and valuable they will be more comfortable with the experience.
- Remind your little one how helpful they are and how you wouldn’t be able to do it without them.
- Before the birth talk to them about whether and how they imagine things might change after the baby is born. Acknowledge their feelings and reassure your child.
- Making time for ‘Mom and older child only’ activities is also a really great way of making an older child still feel important.
- Lastly, in order to explain that the mom and dad still love oldest as much as they always have there is a great exercise that you can do with 4 candles. The idea is to light the mom and dad candle and use these to light the older child candle. The light represents the love mom and dad have for the older child. Then the mom and dad candles light the smaller candle. The smaller candle ignites and the older child candle stays the same. The light is brighter having all 4 candles lit. This exercise shows that a new baby doesn’t mean that mom and dad love you any less and often comfort children who might be feeling anxious about the situation.