Kids often respond to change in unexpected ways, especially when it is something they have never experienced before. That is why it is important to think through how you will break the news of a new sibling. Consider these five approaches to help your child process the announcement in a positive way.
- Be excited. If your child is younger than 3 years old, he may not fully comprehend the implications of a new baby, but he will understand your enthusiasm. Break the news as a big surprise, building anticipation as if it were a special prize or gift. Your smiles, bright eyes and upbeat language will help guide his feelings.
- Drive home the message through entertainment. Read books and watch shows with your child that have storylines about the arrival of a new baby. These stories can help young children understand this new phase of family life. If he’s old enough, ask him what he thought about the story and encourage questions.
- Enlist her help. Tell your child that you are going to need her assistance taking care of the baby. List things she’ll be able to help with: changing diapers, soothing the baby, reading to the baby, entertaining the baby, etc. Making her feel needed will draw her thoughts away from any fears or worries she might have.
- Focus on the positives. As you talk about what life will be like with a sibling, emphasize the perks. Your child will have a new friend to play with. She’ll have someone to help her with cleanup. She’ll get to show the ropes to her new brother or sister and help teach the little one new things.
- Reassure him. At the end of the day, your child just needs to know that his parents will still love him every bit as much as they do now. It helps to remind him that your love won’t be divided—it will be multiplied.