1. Why is this change usually difficult for other siblings to handle?
Well, because everything in their little lives changes! All the attention that was once his is now directed at this tiny little bundle that can’t stop screaming. Where he/she was once allowed to shout and play, he is now expected to be quiet and calm…
This has the potential to become a pretty traumatic situation for children if they aren’t prepared for it and if you as parents do not navigate their insecurities and fears adequately.
2. Is there a “right” time to tell the kids about the new baby on the way?
When you find out that you are pregnant and the doctor has confirmed this, you should tell your other child. The sooner you do, the more time they have to prepare emotionally – it’s a huge change in their little lives.
3. What can the parent do to help the kids, during pregnancy?
- Firstly prepare them, by talking about the baby growing inside of mommy.
- Secondly involve them as much as possible – take them with to your doctors’ appointments to see the sonars, take them with when you buy babies first set of clothes. Let them help pick out a special toy for baby.
- There will be times when mommy will be too tired to play, or when mommy is too big and/or uncomfortable to do the things that she used to do. Ease your child’s fears regarding this and explain that once baby is here, she will be able to play again.
- Another good idea is to tell them how lucky this baby is to be getting such an awesome older brother or sister.
- Get a chart from your clinic or a bookstore that shows the developmental stages of pregnancy and talk through this with your child.
- Key is to involve him/her and to be honest and open about what is happening.
- Also ask extended family to help out when you are tired and need some rest –remember that you’re the only mommy he has so take care of yourself in order to better take care of him.
4. Kids can be quite inquisitive- how much detail should we give if she/he starts asking questions like “where do babies come from”?
The questions parents most fear!!
Remember that the question; “where do babies come from”, does not mean that your child is asking sexual questions.
He/she has no idea that babies and sex are linked let alone what sex is. So make very sure that you know exactly what it is that your child would like to know; as too much information at too young an age would not be a good thing.
So try testing this by asking back “where do you think babies come from?”
Then correct the answer.
For example they might answer, “Mommy goes to the doctor and her belly button opens up and he takes the baby out through the belly button.” So what your child actually needs an answer to is where do babies grow and how do they get from in there to out here.
Then you can explain where exactly a baby grows – don’t say the tummy!! That confuses them a lot! Here your values play a huge role. If you believe in God, as I do, you can explain that God creates mommies very special. Mommies have a special little place between their hips, safe and warm, where a baby can grow; that is not the tummy and only mommies have this special place. It is called a womb.
And the baby gets her food through an umbilical cord that goes into her tummy. Your bellybutton is where your umbilical cord went into your tummy when you were inside mommy’s’ womb.”
See this answer doesn’t even touch on sex and it would be more than enough to satisfy a young curious mind. And best of all this will give you enough time to go and calm down, get on the same page with your spouse on how you would like to handle these types of questions and to go and arm yourself with some helpful books that would be available at any good bookstore.
Don’t lie to your child or say they don’t need to know – it is important to answer their questions to establish a bond of trust between you; and also they need YOU to answer these questions – otherwise they will be getting their information from unwanted sources.
Importantly; your reaction to these questions will determine whether or not they will feel comfortable talking with you about issues like sex. And you want them to feel comfortable discussing these things with you openly!
5. Should the child resist- what do I do as a parent?
Usually children do act out a little in the beginning – remember this is new, strange and not at all pleasant – all your attention and focus is on the new baby, everyone “ooh” and “aah” when they come to visit, so give your child time. But when you see that it is not working, bring your child to a play therapy session to help ease this transition.
6. Would you recommend involving the kids in the actual birth process?
Personally; No I wouldn’t. The reason for this is that nothing in life is certain and it could be a very long and traumatic day for everyone involved. Some moms go into labour and baby is born in the car on the way to hospital, other mommies are in labour for HOURS, so you wouldn’t want to add more pressure on you as parents by having a little one around. Also, they might be quite worried about mommy and might resent baby for hurting mommy or making mom cry and so forth. So no, I would rather say good bye smiling and come back smiling.
7. Any tips for when the baby is born?
Remember that being a parent is the most difficult thing ever! So be patient with yourself. You probably will feel, at one point or another, that you are lousy at it; but remember that you are more than good enough! Again – involve your older child as much as possible. Ask him to help, by bringing you a nappy, or getting a blanket because baby is cold. Also positive reinforcement is important – acknowledge every nice gesture, good thing that he does – say things like “you are such a good helper, thank you for being such an awesome big brother”. Try and give undivided attention as and when possible. And most importantly – don’t be too hard on yourself!!