When we found out that we were expecting again, our son (he’ll be 4 when the baby arrives) was convinced that it would be a girl. He wouldn’t acknowledge that the baby might be another boy. To say that he was disappointed to learn that he would, in fact, have a little brother, is an understatement.
I read everything I could about preparing a child for a new sibling: jealousy, regression of babyish behaviors and sibling rivalry. This was one issue I was completely unprepared for, and it made me wonder if other parents face similar challenges. I discovered a few things we could do to prepare him for his new brother.
Talk About the Baby
First, we talk about the baby a lot. We give him time to express his disappointment and why he’s feeling that way, and we validate those feelings and make him feel heard. We give him lots of opportunities to ask questions, bring up concerns and be involved in the preparations. As always, consider your child’s temperament. Don’t force the conversation, especially if he or she doesn’t seem particularly interested in talking about the new baby.
Reassure Big Brother/Sister
Second, give him lots of reassurance. His new sibling won’t change his relationship with mom and dad, and we’ll still have lots of time for him once the baby gets here. He needs reassurance that he won’t have to give all of his toys or favorite things to the baby. We learned that when an older sibling shows a preference for a baby of the opposite sex. it’s because he or she doesn’t want to share his or her toys with a same-sex sibling. Once we told my son that the baby wouldn’t take all of his things, it seemed to help.
Point Out Advantages
Third, we pointed out the advantages of having a little brother. As they get older, his younger brother would be his best friend and they will have lots in common. I pointed out fun things that little boys get to do together. His dad talked about his family (he has three brothers) and how great it was to have younger brothers.
My son still has moments where he mentions that he would like a little sister instead of a brother, but overall, he’s getting used to the idea. And of course, we hope that once the baby gets here, he’ll be excited by his new sibling and forget that he wanted a girl.
Share your tales of sibling disappointment and how you handled potential rivalry!