Having a child is a lot of work, especially when it’s your first born. However, when baby number two comes around, depending on how old baby number one is, it’s a whole other ball game. Of course, you’re more experienced, have more knowledge and confidence than your first baby, so those things are all beneficial. However, there are things that can come up with the second child that may not have happened with the first.
For my husband and I one of the biggest issues we faced with the birth of my son was my then two-year-old daughter being extremely jealous of her new sibling. During the pregnancy she didn’t seem to show any signs of jealousy. I remember she would rub my belly and liked feeling her baby brother move whenever possible.
So, it was definitely no surprise to her; we would talk to her about her becoming a sister and how much her baby brother loved her. We would tell her how much he wanted to meet her and play with her. I remember family suggesting we buy my daughter a gift and tell her it was from her little brother once he arrived. We did take the suggestion, and as much as she loved the gift, she still wanted nothing to do with her little brother.
Sure, some sibling jealousy is normal, I’ve seen plenty of people play that card with their siblings, and these are adults I’m are talking about! This was something I wasn’t used to, and I did not want it going on any longer. By no means did my daughter ever try to purposely harm her baby brother, however there were some instances where she did end up hurting him on just trying to get away from him and smashing his poor finger with a door or knocking him down, when he was barley learning to walk. It crushed our hearts. If my husband or mother were holding her brother, she would want to be held too and try to get our attention away from him. I asked my family, coworkers and even looked online to find ways to have my daughter like her little brother even just a little.
It’s been a long process, my little girl as sweet as she is, definitely has a strong and stubborn character. This obviously didn’t help, and I think that’s one of the main reasons it took us this long to get to where we are today. If you are experiencing something similar, please know that it is very normal. My research online showed that it can be really hard for first born children to adjust to new siblings, and every child is different. Here are some of the things we tried to help develop sibling bonding.
- If you tell your newborn you love them, tell your first born or other children you love them ten times more. Your newborn does not understand you, so telling his or her older sibling you love them is more important during this time.
- Allow the older sibling(s) to help you with bath and feeding times. By allowing them to help, it creates a bond within siblings not to mention great memories. Make older brothers and sisters feel like they are helping with the new member of the family too.
- Praise every good act of kindness an older sibling does to their younger siblings. Depending on your child’s ages, an older sibling can feel like their whole world (aka mommy and daddy) have been taken away from them. Praise you children because it must take a lot from them to be nice to their new sibling.
- Reward good behavior towards their sibling. Treats and toys are good ideas, but individual mommy and daddy times are the best. Again, children are used to spending time alone with their mommy and daddy before a sibling comes in and now, he or she has to learn to share that attention. If you have family coming over encourage them to spend time with the older sibling as well.
- Remind them that they are your first born and that your love for them hasn’t changed. I remember telling my daughter, that I’ve loved her longer because she is older than her little brother and that I fell in love with her first because she is my first born. Now that my son is getting older, I will hold back on saying that because I wouldn’t want him to misinterpret things.
- Hug them and tell them you love them both at the same time. I love doing this and they love it to. I take turns as to who I tell first, but I hug them at the same time and give them kisses galore. They enjoy it and they know their mommy loves them just the same.
- Encourage activities among them they both like. If they don’t have any then start with activity and then the other, and take turns doing such activities. I got lucky to where they enjoy most of the same activities. Sometimes my son would rather play with his toy trucks while my daughter wants to color. So, it’s just a matter of taking turns.
- My husband and I are Catholic, and we try our best to bring them up in the faith, so we constantly remind them we must love one another as Jesus loved us. So, whatever your faith may be, it can go a long way to show them this too. This is more for my daughter right now because she is older and also attends bible school and is in Catechism classes.
My daughter has completely blown us away with how affectionate she is now with her baby brother. I have to note that although she always had a hard time with him at the beginning, she was always very protective of him even with us. So, I knew there was a little seed that we just had to nurture to get her to stop feeling jealous towards him. Christmas just passed and she received a double gift, so I told her we would wait until the stores would open and we could go and exchange the gift. We got up the next day and went to exchange her gift, the nice clerk explained we could get something that was similar priced and or just pay the difference. We walked down the toy aisles, she picked her gift and she turned to look at me and asked if she still had enough to get her little brother something too. I was so proud of her, I got teary eyed and all what a beautiful act of kindness. It took her a while to get to where she is now, but she surely is a great big sister.