I Don’t Want To Be A Big Sister!
If you already have children, I’m sure you’ve heard at least one of them say “Mommy, Mommy, pleeeeeeezzzz, I want a baby brother or sister!” Because that’s what we want to hear from our kids, it can be quite a shock when their response to your happy announcement rings out, “No, I don’t want to be the big brother, I want to be the baby!”
It’s a hard mix of emotions for Mom and Dad to handle when your child is less than welcoming of the baby-to-be. You’re excited about baby, but saddened and troubled by the older child’s feelings. Your child may harbor such feelings even if they don’t show it. According to Elizabeth Bonet, Clinical Psychologist, “Most children have anxieties and fears around a new baby being born.”
Luckily, there are some things we can do as parents to help calm the worries of even the most excited-looking child. Ms. Bonet suggests the following:
Talk About It
- Validate the child’s feelings.
- Address feelings such as worry over no longer being the baby in the family.
- Explain that he or she will always be Mommy and Daddy’s “baby.”
- Let the child know that he or she will always be special.
- Don’t overemphasize the “big” in big brother or sister if the child is already reluctant.
- Strike up a conversation with the child about his or her fears. Ask if he or she is scared of anything or of the upcoming changes in the family.
Get Him Or Her To Open Up
It’s not always easy to get your child to open up and discuss his or her fears. Bonet explains; “it’s very important for the parents to push the child gently into conversation.” She also suggests using a technique where both parents openly discuss some of their fears with the child to get the ball rolling. “Remember,” says Bonet, “it’s a transition time for the entire family, but with gentleness and validation, children will eventually adjust.”
Some children will want to act out before and even after the baby is born. Many children will do this by acting the part of the baby. Ms. Bonet tells us that this is quite normal. “Parents should play along and give as much ‘mothering’ as needed. Eventually the child will resolve his or her feelings through play.” She explains.
Be sure to talk with your child’s grandparents, care providers, and school if he or she is having serious difficulties with the new baby coming. Make them aware of how you want the issue to be handled. They may even be able to offer some suggestions and help.
If you’re still unable to calm your child’s fears about the new baby, there are several great books, which address this very topic. Your school’s counselor can also be a great resource for free counseling and should be able to offer some good books for you to read.
Even though your child’s fears and feelings are real and can seem difficult to get past, you and your support network can do much to help him or her feel at ease with the new baby. Before you know it, your child will be helping you pick out baby blankets and bottles!