Mum! Dont trade me in!
So, you’re four years old and happy to be the apple of mum and dad’s eye. You’ve heard rumours that mum is playing host to a brother or sister but to be honest, you won’t believe it till you see it! They wouldn’t do it to you….would they? You, as parents might be excited about the impending arrival, but don’t expect everyone to be as thrilled as you.
Your partner arrives home to you with a younger, smaller version of you. Not only are you told that this new person is going to be living in your house, but that you’ve got to be best friends…forever! As a child, there is no rationalising. Things are black and white to them and although some children accept a sibling with little drama, for some it can a big upheaval.
Ultimately, children want your love and attention. The age gaps between your children really don’t make much difference, little jealousies are inevitable but it’s the parents job to help positive relationships develop. From the moment a new sibling arrives, there are things you can do to get their relationship off to a good start.
When baby comes home, have a stash of inexpensive gifts for your older child when the new baby is being showered with presents, thus eliminating a little of the jealousy.
Involve the older child in activities with new baby. E.g, helping to get the bits and bobs together when nappy changing, packing baby’s bag if you’re going out and helping with bath-time.
Don’t be too protective. Your older child is going to look like a giant beside the new arrival. Don’t assume the four year old will hurt the child by getting too close. You may want eyes in the back of your head but both your children need to develop their own relationship.
Spend time with your older child. Maintain routines you have always had e.g. if you always read the bedtime story, keep doing it. Try to get the new baby minded for an hour so you can go out for a treat to the park or for coffee, in order to spend good quality time with your child and to show them that you still care about them.
It can be a difficult adjustment for all of you but, if you approach it with a positive attitude, all will be well.
Bring on the teenage years….!
(First appeared in Easy Parenting Magazine 2012)