And Then There Were Two

by | Apr 3, 2024

You may have recently discovered that you’re about to introduce another tiny human to your family. As wonderful as this is, you know you’ve created an irreplaceable bond with your firstborn. A new sibling is coming, and excitement undoubtedly fills the air! But amidst the joy, there might also be a flicker of uncertainty for you and your child. How do you navigate this transition smoothly, ensuring a positive and welcoming environment for the newest member of your family? We’ve gathered some words of wisdom to help you navigate it all. 

For Your Child:

  • Age-Appropriate Explanations: Tailor your explanations based on your child’s age and understanding. For toddlers, use simple language and picture books depicting families with siblings. There are also wonderful programmes like Daniel Tiger on a few streaming platforms that help introduce the idea of a sibling for your little one. Older children can handle more details, involving them in discussions about the baby’s arrival and their potential role as a big brother/sister.
  • Positive Language: Frame the arrival of the baby in a positive light. Talk about the fun of playing peek-a-boo, reading stories together, and the unconditional love siblings share. You can even let your child choose a special gift for the baby. Yes, you’re well within your right to instruct family and friends on how they should broach the topic with your little one, too. They need to follow your example and request a positive frame. 
  • Involving Your Child: Get your child involved in ways that make sense for them. Let them help pick out clothes for the baby or assist with folding baby blankets. This fosters a sense of responsibility and ownership in their role as a big sibling.

Preparing for Potential Challenges:

  • Regression: When your little one has nailed sleeping in a big girl or boy bed or even just as they master potty training, you may notice “two steps forward and three steps back,” so to speak. Be prepared for your child to regress in behaviour, seeking extra reassurance. This is a normal reaction to feeling displaced. Offer plenty of patience, love, and one-on-one time.
  • Jealousy: Acknowledge your child’s feelings of jealousy, however fleeting they may be. Validate their emotions and reassure them that your love is not diminished. Phrases like “I understand you might feel a little jealous sometimes, that’s okay. I love you both very much” can be helpful. There’s no need to dismiss negative emotions. The earlier your child learns to acknowledge them, the earlier they will learn to deal with them positively. 
  • Books and Roleplay: Use children’s books to explore jealousy and share themes. Act out scenarios of how siblings play together, resolving any potential conflicts your child might be worried about.

Tips for Yourself:

  • Self-Care is Essential: Prioritise your well-being—schedule time for rest, relaxation, and activities you enjoy. A well-rested and balanced parent is better equipped to care for two children.
  • Support System: Don’t be afraid to ask for help. Lean on your partner, family, and friends. Delegate tasks, accept meal deliveries, and explore childcare options for your older child when needed. For the dads reading this, be bold, take the initiative, and insist on taking over some tasks. Without waiting to be asked, dress your tot for nursery school if your partner normally does so or prep the lunch the night before. All too often, moms don’t want to burden you with more responsibilities, but we know you’re up to the tasks.
  • Realistic Expectations: We know you have great expectations of yourself, so in the words of Elsa from Frozen, “Let it go, let it go…” Don’t expect everything to be perfect. There will be adjustments, moments of exhaustion, and unforeseen challenges. Embrace the chaos, focus on the positive, and celebrate small victories.

Building a Strong Sibling Bond:

  • Quality Time with Each Child: Make dedicated time for each child. Read stories with your older child while cuddling the baby. Plan separate outings or activities for your older child. They need the reassurance that they are loved and seen. 
  • Positive Reinforcement: Praise your child’s efforts at being a good sibling. Acknowledge moments of kindness, sharing, and patience. Positive reinforcement strengthens desired behaviours.
  • Stop Overcompensating: When discipline is required, don’t feel guilty. Children need the right discipline. They can pick up on your guilt when you negate consequences and try to use it against you (you’ve been warned). Discipline and boundaries are part of your love for them.
  • Celebrate Milestones: Celebrate milestones for both children. Acknowledge your older child’s accomplishments, the baby’s first steps, smiles, and words.

There will be bumps along the road, but with open communication, patience, and a whole lot of love, you can help your children build a strong and lasting bond with their new sibling.