Sibling rivalry

How can I prepare my child for the birth of a sibling?

It is normal for a first child to feel ‘pushed out’ by the prospect of a new brother or sister, after all until now they have been the centre of your universe, but there is a certain amount you can do to prepare them for the new arrival. Here are just a few tips:

  • Take time to encourage and appreciate any helpful and loving gestures made by your child towards the new baby, while ignoring negative and babyish behaviour as far as possible.
  • Find small, manageable tasks for your older child to do to encourage them to be involved. Don’t push if you get a negative response, but give praise for the help you do receive.
  • Try to arrange some special, baby-free time for you and your older child to have a quiet read or play on your own.
  • Be firm about negative behaviour without making your child feel guilty. Stress that it is what they are doing, not what they are, that is unacceptable.
  • Beware of getting into the habit of thinking about ‘good’ and ‘bad’ behaviour and ‘good’ and ‘bad’ children within a family as you don’t want to stigmatize your child.
  • Watch out for signs of withdrawal or depression in your older child and mention any concerns to nursery staff. A child who is finding their feelings about a new baby too difficult to share may bury them and need help in talking about them to someone outside the family.