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This is a guest post from my good friend Amber – Amber’s passion is to help moms first love Jesus and then to teach them to serve Him by ministering to their families. She blogs at All Natural Joy, which exists to encourage moms to love what they do & to delight in everyday living. She has a heart for family discipleship as well as teaching moms to fill their souls with God’s Word. Aside from blogging, Amber is a homeschooling wife and mom to seven kids, so if you read it on her blog, you’ll know it comes from true life experience. Her kids give her many opportunities to practice what she preaches!
Preventing Sibling Jealousy Over a New Baby:
I have seven kids.
That means six different times I’ve brought a baby home from the hospital and have had to go through the transition of the “baby” no longer being the “baby.” Not once have I ever had a problem with the newly displaced “baby” have a “new blessing” take over his spot. As in never.
Curious on-lookers are always quick to announce to me (as they see my ready to burst, rounded, pregnant belly) that my “baby” is going to be so jealous once the new little bundle arrives. Maybe this is normal?? I’m not sure. But I do know, that I’ve purposed to make it a point to make my kids feel very comfortable and excited about their new little brother or sister. I put an effort into avoiding sibling jealousy over a new baby.
It doesn’t happen by accident, and I’m sure that if left to their own devices, new siblings would most definitely feel displaced if it weren’t for a bit of intentionality on my part (and my husband.) And rightly so. After all, they haven’t had to split affections (although I would argue that love multiplies, but that’s a discussion for another day.)
But how do I avoid “new baby jealousy?’
Here are some very intentional things that I do when preparing to bring a new baby home to meet his siblings.
Talk, talk, talk
When I am expecting a new baby, and especially when I’m close to delivering, I talk to my kids a lot about what to expect. I teach and explain that the new baby will need lots of my time and attention, but it doesn’t mean I love my kids any less. Depending on the age, it will be easier for your kids to grasp. But, in any case, talk to them a lot.
Be quick to answer any questions your kids have about the new baby and let them know that it’s ok to ask questions and voice their concerns. Bringing a new baby into the home will invoke lots of emotions for everyone (good and bad) and it’s important that your kids know they can talk to you about whatever they’re feeling.Talking to your kids will help avoid sibling jealousy. It lets your kids know that you still have time for them and love them. This is a great way to get your child’s heart and help them feel secure about your love for them. That way you’ll leave no room for jealousy.
Prepare them by buying a special doll
If your kids are little enough, buying them a special doll to play “mommy” or “daddy” with can go a long way in helping your child feel a sense of responsibility, rather than jealousy. (Just a hint – I don’t recommend it if your kids are older! Your sixteen year old son probably wouldn’t appreciate it! 🙂 )
I recommend acquiring this doll a while before the baby comes so that your child can develop a sense of connection with the baby (doll). Teach the new “big brother” or “big sister” to pretend to feed and swaddle the baby. Now is a good time to teach that newborn babies are very breakable.
Give them the “Job” of Protecting The New Baby
On that note, I always teach the current baby of the family that when the new baby arrives, it’s his or her job to protect the baby. This gives a sense of ownership and responsibility. In turn, it helps keep the feelings of jealousy at bay. (And helps your little one to remember that babies aren’t toys and they need gentleness.)
Let them pick out a baby gift
Preparing for a baby is always fun. There’s something about a new arrival that makes people want to buy a new gift. (Hence the popularity of baby showers.) I have found that taking the kids shopping for a baby gift that they can present their new brother or sister with helps to dispel any feelings of jealousy or confusion your child might be having. It doesn’t have to be elaborate. We usually let our kids buy a small stuffed animal or a special blankie that is just from them. That way they feel a special connection with the baby even before the new baby arrives. I have watched as my kids have carefully given their gift to their new brother or sister. There’s such a look of pride and admiration. I really think that is where the connection of love starts. That way jealousy has much less of a chance of taking root.
Make it about the other kids
This is one of the best pieces of advice I ever got – from a pediatrician discharging me from the hospital with my third baby. I had two little ones at home who didn’t really understand why mommy was gone for two days and why she was in a hospital. As best as their little minds could grasp, they knew we were having a baby, but they couldn’t quite compute what that involved. In short, they missed me and were waiting for me to come home and quickly!
As a result, the doctor told my husband and me to make it all about the kids who were patiently and eagerly waiting at home for us to return. He told us to walk in the door, put the new baby aside, (safely, of course) and run to and embrace the little ones waiting at home. Best advice ever.
That is always our routine when coming home with a new little one. We hug and love our precious kiddos and let them know that we love them so much. In doing so, they understand that they aren’t being displaced, but rather, our family is welcoming another sweet baby into the family to love and cherish.
It is hands down, the best thing we have done to avoid sibling jealousy over a new baby.
Spend special time with the kids apart from the baby
A new baby takes up time, love and energy, no doubt. But your kids need to know that you still have time for them. They need you to spend time with them and show them that just because you’ve welcomed a new little one into your home, you will still have time to be their mommy and love them.
Try to take special time with your kids. Take time apart from the baby. Use your newborn’s nap time or call a family member or friend to give some extra cuddles! (I’ve never had anyone turn down this offer!) Play games or read books. Do something special that you used to do before the baby arrived.
If you show your kids that you will still spend special time with them, even though you have a new baby, your kids won’t have a reason to be jealous. They will know that you still love them and they will feel secure in your family. Love will multiply and jealousy won’t have any place to take root.
It depends on you
In large part, your attitude toward your kids and your new baby will affect their feelings. If you take the time to show them how much you love them, they will be secure and less likely to become jealous.
Remember that a new baby is an adjustment for everyone. Be patient and expect a time of transition. But if you take the time to try my suggestions, your kids will embrace the role of “big brother” and “big sister” with much more enthusiasm and much less jealousy over a new baby!
We have a motto in our house, “There’s always room for one more.” That helps the kids know that we can open our arms and multiply the love, rather than divide it. That no matter how many children are born into our family, everyone is loved equally.
You may have to intentionally take time to work with your kids and teach them how to love their new precious baby. Not being jealous doesn’t just come naturally. Kids need help learning how to handle all of their new-found emotions and that takes practice. On my blog, All Natural Joy I have a FREE parenting E-book that will teach you how to help your kids to listen to you. I’ll teach you a gentle and loving approach to helping your kids obey. And it works with any age!