Sibling Jealousy isn’t a problem i thought about in advance. I remember when I had my second baby. My first daughter was a little over four years old. She used to be a happy-go-lucky kid until we welcomed a new baby. While she was excited at first sighting her younger sister, her usual happy mood began to wane with time. She started withdrawing and spent less time with the family. Initially, we thought this was something related to school, but when her teacher reported that nothing had changed, and she was always excited in school, we began to worry that the problem must be from home. To our utmost surprise, we were right! It took a lot of intervention from my husband and me to regain the love and trust of our beloved child.
Adding to your family can be an exciting and joyous experience. However, it can also be overwhelming for parents and older children. The arrival of a new baby can drive different emotions in older siblings. As a parent, preparing your children for the arrival of a new baby is essential to ease the transition and build a strong sibling bond.
In this article, we share different tips and tricks that you can use to prepare your older children for the arrival of a new baby.
7 Tips and Tricks for Handling Sibling Jealousy
Here are seven tips and tricks for minimising sibling jealousy effectively:
1. Notify them about the Incoming Baby
Parents may occasionally overlook the significance of their children, and treat them as just another member of the household. It’s important to recognise and acknowledge them as valuable family members.
As a pregnant woman, the moment your baby bumps begin to show, sit your older child down and let them know what’s happening with mummy. This is particularly essential in an only child below age five. A typical parent-to-child conversation can be, “Olivia, mum will be giving you a sister to keep you company.”
Something like this can give them a sense of belonging and prepare them ahead for the baby’s arrival.
2. Involve your Older Child in Gift selection
Babies love being involved in choosing gifts for their incoming siblings. When you go shopping for Gifts for your New Baby, take your older child and let them pick an item or two. With that, you are gradually registering it in their subconscious minds; they are decision-makers in the family. If your child is old enough to have savings, you can encourage them to spend their money to pay for the item. Doing this gives them a sense of ownership. We highly recommend this Personalised Gender Neutral Caddy Set as a great gift for your Child to give in order to support their Mum and New Sibling, and it will be a constant reminder that they have had an input into the Parenting process! (Psst – The Caddy set also comes in Pink and Blue!).
3. Sibling Jealousy often manifests at a later stage
Sibling Jealousy doesn’t always start straight away. In fact, Children are occasionally overly enthusiastic in their care of a new-born baby, and Parents can find themselves having to set boundaries!. Rather than wait until the baby comes before dishing out commands on what they can do or cannot, let them know ahead of what you expect from them regarding the baby’s care. For instance, let them know it’s not allowed to pick up or hold the baby without permission. Giving instructions without justifying your reasons can often lead to resentment. Don’t just tell them not to pick up a baby without permission; let them know the consequences. It might be the baby sliding out of their arms, or their head not being supported, or even dirty hands wreaking havoc on Baby’s immune system!
Some parents find it helpful to buy a Baby Doll with Accessories to help their Child practice techniques for holding and helping care for their new Sibling!
Setting boundaries around the child’s space and belongings is equally important. For example, if the older child will be sharing a room with the baby after a year, ensure they have their own space and belongings that are off-limits to the baby. Consequently, the older sibling(s) feel they have control over their space and belongings.
4. Set up Family Dates
It’s always better to show than tell. Sometimes, a child learns better from what they see. You can set up a family date if you have friends or family members with a new baby and older siblings. Your older child will learn better from watching other older siblings interact with their new baby.
Make sure to visit families with positive manners and avoid those that may have display negative behaviours, or practices which you wish to discourage. It can also help to ask the Parents whether they had to deal with Sibling Jealousy.
5. Foster a Strong Bond
Encouraging a strong bond between siblings can be done in different ways. One of the most effective is involving the older child in the baby’s care, depending on their age. You can entrust them with occasional diaper changes or feeding if they are old enough. This will help the older sibling feel like they are contributing to the family and give them a sense of responsibility.
Moreover, make time for your older child even after the baby arrives. This can include setting aside one-on-one time for activities the child enjoys, such as reading a book together or going for a walk. The result? You reiterate they are an integral part of the family and are not being side-lined because of a new baby.
Another way to foster a strong bond between a baby and its older sibling is to encourage humour. Research shows that babies start to laugh as early as four months old. This could be from teasing where they point to an object, vocalise and then refuse it with that cheeky smile. Nina Howe citing her paper with Amy Pain of Cardiff University, said:
“Children are really funny, and they amuse each other. That’s what gave us the idea of looking at humour in a more organized, systematic way.”
6. Handle Sibling Jealousy in a Mature Manner
Jealousy is a common emotion that older children may experience when a new baby arrives. You can manage this by being aware of your older child’s feelings and addressing them in a supportive and understanding way.
Acknowledge your child’s feelings and remind them that the baby is a new family member and not a replacement for them. Also, resist the urge to make them feel guilty for being jealous. Understand that jealousy is a natural emotion, and anyone, regardless of age, could be a victim.
7. Establish Adjusted Routine
The arrival of a new baby can disrupt the family’s routine and schedule. You can help your older children adjust to the new routine by involving them in planning. For example, ask them for input on the best time for their one-on-one moment or family activity. Also, be consistent and stick to a schedule as much as possible. This can include having regular family meals or setting a bedtime for the older child. When you are consistent with the plan, you provide a sense of security and stability for the child, helping them navigate the change seamlessly.
Sibling Jealousy – Recap
Sibling jealousy is a common occurrence in many homes. As a parent, your responsibility is to help your child prepare for the changes. Applying these seven tips will help minimise sibling rivalry and jealousy. Feel free to check our range of new baby products. Please contact us for any questions or enquiries; we will be happy to help.