You most likely already know that sharing doesn’t come naturally to most little ones. “Mine” is probably one of your toddler’s favourite words. Now try to imagine your little one having to share not just a toy, but mummy and daddy too…all the time!
I have gathered some tried and tested hints and tips which will help the transition go more smoothly.
Acknowledge your child’s feelings. Your little one may express negative feelings or play up. Try not to get angry or upset; instead say things like, “Being a big brother/sister can be hard. Sometimes you will feel sad or do things you don’t mean to do and that’s OK. We will always love you too and want to help you feel happy.”
Offer a gift. But not all the time so they expect it! There will be fabulous baby gifts arriving by the truckload when your new baby arrives. This can be pretty tough for a tot who’s no longer the centre of attention and is sitting on the sidelines watching the loot accumulate. So once in a while, surprise them with a gift you happen to have at the ready. Nothing fancy, I’m not here to encourage you to spend more money, just a little something that says “being a big sib is great,” like a new colouring book, a book, a puzzle or even a sheet of stickers.
When friends arrive with (yet another) giant box for the baby, let them help to unwrap it (what a good helper!). If it’s an item that your newborn is too little to use just yet, like a toy, let your toddler try it out first.
Make time for just them, regularly. Try to give your toddler a bit of undivided attention, even if it’s just 10 to 20 minutes a day while your newborn naps. One way to accomplish this more easily is to wear your newborn in a sling, which gives you two free hands to play a game with your older child. Feeling frazzled? Ask for help from a relative, who can look after your newborn while you spend time with your oldest. Maybe suggest your partner schedules special activities together with your child, like making weekend waffles or heading out to the park or cinema – whatever they would consider a special treat.
Offer praise. Reward your child with hugs and compliments for showing patience (waiting without whinging while you change a nappy), being cooperative (handing you that nappy instead of throwing it in the other direction!) and empathy (“The baby’s crying, Mummy. Maybe he’s hungry”). Make a fuss, especially in front of others: “Thank you for handing me the nappy, sweetheart! What a great big brother/sister you are!”
Regression. Your toddler may revert back to behaviour more typical to that of a younger child, like thumb-sucking, or experience setbacks if they are toilet training or transitioning to a big kid’s bed. This is as much a sign of stress as it is a grab for attention. Try to be extra understanding and patient. If at all possible, try to plan any big changes, like toilet-training or weaning, well before the newborn arrives.
Acting rough with the baby. Your child may try to express anger towards the baby through physical aggression. Don’t punish them, but make it clear that absolutely no hurting is allowed. Let your little one express anger through other ways, like drawing a picture of himself looking mad or roaring like a big, fierce lion.
Anxiety. Along with making sure to spend time with your older child, encourage them to talk to you about how they feel. Be reassuring and explain it’s normal to want things to be like they were before the baby arrived.
“We’ll never get a photo of them together”…
This is a phrase I have heard regularly, believe me! The whole acting up, being rough (or trying to), just generally fed up with this tiny new human soaking up all the attention. Please, don’t worry. Every session is led completely by your children and with my experience, I will work with them to determine how I will achieve that all important photograph of your children together.
This may be including them into each setup, they can ‘help’ me take the photos, choose the colours, sing to baby to settle them. It might work better to include them right from the start, or maybe introduce them right at the end. If they’re really not up for joining in, there is the possibility that I can take a photo of just them and create a combined photograph for you. There will be a way and I will achieve it.
This is just one of the advantages of me coming to you for your photography experience. You have time to give your older child some undivided attention whilst I work with your baby and it’s the perfect time to shower them with praise when they are being helpful and joining in too.
To find out more, or to arrange a non-obligation chat about your photography session, please get in touch using the contact form.