2023 Author: Anita Thornton | [email protected]. Last modified: 2023-05-22 03:30
The arrival of a second child raises an inescapable question: how do you get your first child to agree to lose your exclusive attention?
“We learned a few weeks ago that we are expecting a second child! We are very excited by this news, but also very anxious about the reactions of our little Vincent, who will be 3 years old when his brother or sister is born. How can you best prepare him for this big change in his life? How do you make sure he doesn't feel left out? »
When you are expecting a first child, you experience a lot of worries. We wonder if we will be a good parent, if we will be able to survive the sleepless nights, to properly decode baby's crying, if we will succeed in continuing to be a good lover, a good friend, if we will still have time for us. Phew! But while expecting a second child, concerns are different. We know that we are a good parent, we have accepted all the upheavals that have occurred in our lives to the point where we would no longer imagine our life without children! Now we're wondering if we'll be able to love our second child as much as the first, how will he find his place in ourheart. And above all, we wonder how our only child, until now the center of our attention and affection, will react to the birth of his little brother or his little sister.
The theory: what the specialists say
What must first be understood is that a child under the age of 6 lives in the "here and now", so he only understands very concrete things. If for you it is clear that a little being will soon be in your lives, that you love and cherish him already by flattering your belly, for him, all that is still very nebulous. Yes, he will be able to grasp that there is a baby in your womb, but it is only after birth that he will realize that the baby is indeed present, that he is here to stay, that he has attention from mom and dad when he probably gets less. And above all that this little pink being in front of which all people are in ecstasy is part of the family, of HIS family.
Several years ago, I had attended the conference of a child psychologist who had presented the following situation to us: imagine that tomorrow morning your husband arrives at home with a beautiful young woman, let him tell you that she will now live with you all. That you don't have to worry, that he loves you just as much as before, but that he will now have to spend a lot of time with her because she needs him! That you will also have to share your personal belongings and give him the clothes that no longer suit you because you havemagnified.
How would you react? What feelings would you have? However, for the child, it is really a rival who arrives in HIS universe. A universe where he was unique, where he was the center of attention, where his relationship with his parent was exclusive. Seen in this light, it helps us better understand and accept his reactions of jealousy, anger and aggression, doesn't it?
Practice: solutions adapted to your needs
As it was difficult for me to make a follow-up text with all this information without it being disjointed, here are “bulk” tips and suggestions to help you live this emotionally intense period as harmoniously as possible. It's up to you to choose the ones that suit you and look like you!
- Announce the baby's arrival at least a few months in advance so that he has time to prepare for it. Incorporate it into the preparations for the bedroom, the clothes of the unborn baby, the suitcase for the hospital, etc.
- Make at least one appointment where your child will accompany you to your doctor or midwife. My daughter Ariane, who was very small, was fascinated to hear the baby's heart and also to see it on the ultrasound!
- Allow your child to touch your belly. Feeling the baby move will make pregnancy more concrete for him.
- Invite him to choose a present to give to the baby. By this gesture, he sometimes expresses his expectations vis-à-vis the newborn. When he gives atoy that amuses him, he probably expects the newborn to be a playmate.
- If you wish, you can also buy the eldest a gift from the newborn to mark this special event in his life. Becoming a big brother or big sister is no small thing!
- Promote a few hours in daycare, hobbies, or with other significant people before the baby is born. And make sure he's with someone he loves and feels comfortable with when he leaves for the hospital or birthing center.
- And above all, enjoy some time just with him, playing or doing a little one-on-one activity without talking about the baby to come! For Ariane and me, a bath together and a little massage before bedtime were our little daily moments just for the two of us during pregnancy. We enjoyed it a lot!
When the baby is born
- Choose a moment of introduction between the child and the new baby without the room being filled with visitors. Take full advantage of this magical moment when your two children will discover each other. My birth companion also suggested that the baby not be in my arms when my daughter arrived, but rather that we go to him together to welcome him. That the child would thus have less the impression of "losing his place".
- Exchange small gifts between the two children if you wish.
- When you get home, give him small responsibilities within his reach:fetch a diaper, warn when baby is crying, give soap when bathing or choose baby clothes.
- When you feed baby, put him near you with a book, puzzle or game. At home, I had assembled a small box of colorful and stimulating toys that I only took out when I breastfed. They piqued my daughter's interest more than the toys that were always within her reach.
- Be indulgent with his reactions. They are normal! On the other hand, if he behaves aggressively towards the baby, tell him right away that you do not accept this and guide him towards the desired behavior ("You have to be gentle with your sister" by showing him how to pet baby gently).
- And despite the intensity of the first few weeks with baby, don't forget to also spend time alone with your "big one", even if it's only 10 or 15 minutes a day. It will make him feel all the love and importance he has for you again!
Resources: references, books, sites or self-help groups
During my pregnancy, Ariane and I leafed through a number of books on the arrival of a baby while going to the municipal library. She was very interested in it and it helped her put her emotions into words. The one she liked best, and which was also my crush because it's the only one where I saw a breastfeeding mother - it was our reality to come - is the book Antoine becomes big brother by Valerie Elizabeth Burn, Isabelle Côté andRoxanne Gendron. This book is no longer available in bookstores, but it is surely at your library!
She also really enjoyed looking at books where you could see pictures of baby's development in the belly. There are so many beautiful ones on the market! You will certainly find one to your liking that will make your little one understand this great miracle of life somewhat!
Also, some perinatal professionals, like my friend Kathleen Lescarbeau, have developed prenatal courses that are specifically aimed at parents who are not seeing their first child. A mine of great information and beautiful exchanges in perspective that will certainly meet your needs and meet your expectations!