Preparing Our Child for the Coming of the New Baby
I have two children and another one on the way. I'm expecting another boy, so that makes three boys in a row. Wow, talk about boy maki...
I have two children and another one on the way. I'm expecting another boy, so that makes three boys in a row. Wow, talk about boy making machine, yup that's me! :) Although we were praying for a girl this time, God said, I'd be a better mommah to another boy, just as how I am with my first two boys. Better luck next time (which my husband says in full swing baby production again for next year, haha, we'll see!).
Flashback to when I had only one child and the second one was still in my oven, one of the most fearful thoughts I had was how to not make my elder child might get jealous of the new baby. Other thoughts were: How would he not feel less loved? How would he not feel that we have lesser attention on him and more on the new baby?
We involved the older child in baby preparations. From the time when we found out that we're going to be new parents to another bundle of joy, we shared this right away to our older child. He was about six years old at that time of knowing he's going to be a big brother soon. Age does play a big role as well in this situation. He's not too young anymore to be aware of what having an addition to the family means. We let him participate in choosing a name, in shopping for some baby stuff, in a number of ultrasound check-ups. I even tell him how baby develops in mommy's tummy month after month. There was an amazement in his eyes whenever we would talk about how big is the baby already. This way, he wouldn't feel left out and we make him feel excited about the baby's arrival.
We showed pictures of him when he was a tiny baby himself. To set his expectations of what's going to happen when the baby arrives, we showed him his baby pictures. We told him how everyone prepared for his arrival in the family. And it is the same excitement and preparation that we're doing for his arriving baby brother. We also told him that everything we will be doing for the baby, he experienced it first. So instead of feeling threatened, our first-born was assured that the baby will not take his place. He will always be our first baby.
We constantly let him know he's special and very much loved. Just a few months before I gave birth to my second child, I noticed that my first-born became very clingy. He would always seek my attention, he would always hug me, kiss me, and just hold my hand whenever and wherever. I guess that was his way of coping up with his indescribable feeling of anticipation of what's to come. I just acknowledged his being clingy and I reciprocated and did so much more for him. We constantly told him how special he is and how much we love him. That expression of love is not only exercised during the waiting game, but it's a constant thing in the family. We assured him that we will never ever love him less even when the baby arrives.
We let him hold and care for his baby brother. When the new baby was finally born, we made sure he was also one of the first few who would see the baby in the nursery. We were conscious about not leaving him out. We made sure we make him feel trusted holding his baby brother. We wanted him to feel that he's indeed already a Kuya and that he now also has a new responsibility as one of baby's caregivers. He was never isolated. With our proper guidance, we taught him some simple baby caring tasks he could do at his age like singing lullabies and making the baby laugh. Early on, we were able to instill some brother responsibilities and some pride in himself being called a big brother.
We told him that the bigger the family, the better! Sometimes kids couldn't help but think that once the baby is out, they too are out, out of the picture that is. That's why we intentionally did everything we can so he would be assured that that the baby will not take his place. We told him that an addition to the family just simply means, we will have more people to love and love us back. We told him that having a brother means having a best buddy for life whom he will watch over and will watch over him too. Having a little brother who will look up to him enforced him to be more responsible, to act like a really big kid, and to have pride in himself. Having a bigger family means double or triple the fun and it's all the better than just being one.
Since my second child was born, there was not one hint of jealousy from my older son towards his brother. He already has that wisdom that we love them both just the same and that whatever we are doing now for the little one, we did it all for him first. My two boys were born on the same month their birthdays being a week apart. When my second child was born, my elder son had already turned seven. But since we prioritized the delivery of the baby, his 7th birthday party had to be postponed a month after his birthday. He understood and he gave way. He said mommy's and baby's safety should be taken care of first.
Now that we are expecting our third child, we are repeating all these preparations to our second son. He's younger than his Kuya when Kuya was being prepared for the coming of the new baby. This means, a little more effort and patience on our end as parents to teach our second child about his new role as a Kuya, that he's no longer the baby of the family and that should be okay. We are currently undergoing this process of preparing him to be a big brother. Hopefully, we'll also be successful with this preparation until our third child comes out.