For most parents, breaking the news to their child that they are going to have a new baby sibling is a time of joy. And for some children, the idea that they will soon have a new baby sibling to play with fills them with excited anticipation. They love to wear their ‘I’m going to be a big brother/sister’ t-shirt with pride.
by Jo Hartley
But that’s not the case for everyone. Some children are far from excited at the prospect of taking on this new role. They don’t want to be a big brother or sister. They are, quite simply, happy as they are and are not interested in a new baby sibling. Parenting expert Dr Karen Phillip echoes this. In her experience, children often demonstrate disruptive behaviours in the lead up to a new baby entering the house. “This is often the result of their confusion as to what position they will hold when the baby arrives,” she says. “It’s a reaction of a symptom to something they are feeling or confused about.”
So what is the best course of action in dealing with this during the pregnancy?
Dr Phillip says to explain how much they will be able to love and care for their new brother or sister when they arrive. “Depending on the age of the child, get them involved as much as possible during the pregnancy with things like purchasing nursery items, an outfit or a special toy,” she says.
Dr Phillip recommends talking about the baby as a natural and normal addition to the family – but advises against being overly elated about the pending baby’s arrival in front of the child. “Discuss the baby’s arrival with the child, be curious about what the child is feeling and thinking, and answer every question they have,” she says. “And give lots of cuddles and attention to ensure they feel part of this upcoming event.”
Both experts state the importance of not talking to your child about how they are going to have to share. “This is not the time to teach them about self-sacrifice and noble altruism,” advises Gurton. “They need to be comforted and to see from the actions of the adults that their world is not going to be changed much, except perhaps for the better.”