By: Davine Holness
When a new child comes into a family, it is a time of joyous celebration. However, for new older sibling their excitement about a new playmate often mingles with jealousy and anger at the loss of their position as the youngest or only child. For younger children, this can manifest itself in regression and aggression. They may act out against the infant, who they may see as “stealing” away the attention of the parents. They may regress to become more like the baby they see everyone cooing over; for instance, newly potty-trained toddlers may have an increase in bed-wetting after they gain a little brother or sister. Older children, on the other hand, are better able to understand that receiving less attention doesn’t mean the parents love them less. Yet they often still experience some jealousy, which in turn makes them feel guilty. In order to guide the older sibling to acceptance of a new sibling, parents can take steps to ensure the child knows they still have a special place in the family.
Preparing the child for the new sibling should begin when the parents start to tell friends and relatives about the pregnancy. Tell the child directly – so that they don’t find out from someone else – and begin to talk to them about the changes that will occur. As the pregnancy progresses, it may be helpful to take the time to reminisce about when the older-sibling-to-be was a baby, viewing pictures or telling stories. When the baby is finally born, let the older sibling feel like they are part of this exciting new process. This can come through calling the infant “our baby,” letting the older sibling help in any way possible, or allowing him or her to help choose a baby name. Emphasize the older sibling’s role by saying that they now have the important role of big brother or sister. Most importantly, set aside time to be with just the older sibling. You can use this time to talk about how they are doing. Special attention directed at the older sibling can make all the difference.
For help dealing with family issues, feel free to contact our Bergen County, NJ or Manhattan offices of psychologists, psychiatrists, and psychotherapists to speak with a professional experienced in family counseling.
Arista Counseling and Psychiatric Services (201) 368-3700 or (212) 722-1920
More detailed information can be found at http://www.acenterfortherapy.com
Banschick, M. (2014, June 3). Helping Your Child Accept a New Baby. . Retrieved June 6, 2014