A new baby in the family brings about tremendous changes for your preschooler. While every child will handle the transition to siblinghood in his own way, there are steps you can take to ease your child's shift from only child to oldest child.
Start with prayer. Welcome your baby home by having everyone gather together and pray for her. Include prayers for your older child as well. This will be a precious moment as you thank God for the wonderful gift of your children.
Use your words. Your attitudes, actions, and words play a big part in shaping the friendship that develops between your children. Tell your older child, "Our baby is so lucky to have you as a big brother!" or "Look how you make him laugh. He really likes you!" Let your child "overhear" you compliment him in front of others as well.
Encourage patience. When your older child has to wait, say, "My hands are busy now," instead of blaming it on the baby ("The baby needs me"). When you're doing something with your older child, tell your baby, "You're going to have to wait a minute while I finish helping your big brother." The baby won't understand, but your older child will appreciate knowing he's not the only one who has to wait.
Make feeding fun. Gather a stash of toys (blocks, books, puzzles, dolls, videos, anything your child can use independently) for your child to dig into while you feed the baby. Set out a few toys before you get started and rotate the goodies so there are new things to do each time.
Remember when. Look at your older child's baby pictures or videos together, so he can see that he received the same love and care as the new baby. As your baby reaches milestones, tell the story of your older child reaching these milestone, too.
Linda Danis is the mother of four and the author of 365 Things Every New Mom Should Know: A Daily Guide to Loving and Nurturing Your Child (Harvest House).
Copyright © 2003 by the author or Christianity Today/Christian Parenting Today magazine.
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