Maybe you thought things were hectic after your first child was born. But just wait until the second one comes along – then your parenting skills are really forced into overdrive.
As you and your partner tackle each challenge that comes with introducing a new baby into the family, remember that your older child is likely to be just as anxious about the change – if not more so.
Sibling jealousy is a natural and predictable emotion, often strongest for an only child who had previously been the center of their parents’ world. In response to this loss of control, some kids may act out, regress or attempt to dominate your attention.
However, there are ways you can help prepare your son or daughter for their new sibling. Parenting advice from many experts suggests starting by painting a realistic picture of what your child’s new role will be, as well as what the baby will be able to do.
For example, instead of promising an instant playmate, explain that the infant will not be able to do much except for eat, sleep and cry for the first several months.
At the same time, emphasize the importance of your child’s upcoming role as a big brother or sister and assure them you would like them to help out.
Consider sitting down with your little one to go through old photos from when they were a baby, filling in details so they feel something in common with their new brother or sister.
You can also let your child choose a special gift for their sibling or select the color of the nursery. And some popular parenting advice recommends asking family members to bring a "big brother" or "big sister" gift if they are also bringing a present for the baby.
Once the baby is born, continue to use your parenting skills to remind your older child how much you love them.
Setting aside some time in the day to focus exclusively on them will go a long way toward reassuring your kids that they have not been displaced in your affections.