Getting Big Brother or Sister Ready for a New Baby

When Things Don't Go as Planned

You can take every precaution in the book, but there will likely come a time when your child is feeling deprived of your attention. Sibling rivalry tends to start right after (or even before) your baby has arrived. Your older children may start to break the rules or do things they know will get your attention, which may mean disobeying you and doing things they know are not acceptable. Remember, even negative attention is still attention!
One way to correct this behavior is to focus on praising your older child when he or she is behaving well, and ignoring them when their behavior is negative. This will help steer your child to looking for more positive ways to get your attention.
It's also not unusual for older children to regress after a new baby arrives. Regression means that your child will act more like a baby, such as having potty-training accidents, drinking from a bottle, or using baby talk. They see the new baby getting your attention for these actions, so your older child may start to mimic them.
Try to avoid punishing this type of behavior. Be patient and understand that your older children are trying to adjust to this new family dynamic in the best way they know how. Try to be consistent in giving your children plenty of love, hugs, and reassurance.
You may also notice your child becoming more aggressive with your new baby. This is an indication that your older child may be stressed by the changes that are occurring. They may handle this stress by taking out their frustration on the new baby, such as taking the baby's bottle away or possibly inflicting harm on the baby.
If you are noticing signs of aggression, it's time for a sit-down talk with your child. It's important to explain that it is not acceptable for him or her to hurt the baby. Acknowledge their feelings without judging them and give examples of acceptable ways to express those feelings, such as through speaking, drawing, or writing. Try to give your older child extra attention, praising the positive interactions with the baby.
It is important that you keep an eye out for this sort of behavior. Even if your child seems to be fine around the baby, supervision is crucial. Do not leave your baby alone with a sibling or other person younger than 12 years old. You never know when the acts of aggression may surface, and it's best not to take that chance.
You can also try to involve your older child in the care of the baby, such as changing diapers, bathing, or singing. Remember, praise, praise, praise -- it will go a long way in enforcing those loving acts toward the new baby!
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