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MomTalk.com June 17, 2018:   The women's magazine for moms about children, family, health, home, fashion, careers, marriage & more


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When Your Baby Becomes A Big Sister or Big Brother

sweetsisters.jpgI remember holding our first son in my arms just weeks before his sister was born, knowing that our lives would never be the same again. We had always wanted our children to have siblings, but now it seemed that our precious baby's life was changing much too quickly.

sweetsisters.jpg

Your Baby Today: New Baby, New Mom: Relationships

By Carol Harding for Your Baby Today

I remember holding our first son in my arms just weeks before his sister was born, knowing that our lives would never be the same again. We had always wanted our children to have siblings, but now it seemed that our precious baby's life was changing much too quickly. Were any of us ready?

How do we prepare our babies to be big brothers and sisters? How do we prepare ourselves to be parents of siblings? We want to have a unique closeness with each child, and we want to raise children who get along with each other. How do we help our children develop special relationships with each other as well as with us, their parents?

Judy Dunn, Distinguished Professor of Human Development at The Pennsylvania State University, has conducted research on brother/sister relationships for several decades. After observing many different brothers and sisters, Dunn and her colleagues reported that most relationships were warm, affectionate, and friendly much of the time. In their book, Siblings: Love, Envy, and Understanding, Dunn and Kendrick reported that more than 95% of the older brothers and sisters they observed were eager to help care for the new baby in their family. They also reported that aggressive acts towards the baby were uncommon. This is good news.

Based on the research of Dunn and others, several ways are listed below to help our children become big sisters and brothers.

  • Prepare your child for the new arrival. Adjustment to big brotherhood or sisterhood is easier when it's not a surprise.
  • Share the new baby's caregiving with the older sibling. Even the youngest brother or sister can be "baby's special helper." Supervise carefully, choose tasks appropriately, and have fun together.
  • Be sure your children have time to play with each other (with you close by but not necessarily involved). Shared fantasy play leads to good times together and contributes to warm relationships for life.
  • Encourage your children to share "silly times" with each other (again with you close by but not always involved). In her book, Young Children's Close Relationships, Dunn reported that humor forms one of the best life-long connections between brothers and sisters.
  • Expect some sibling rivalry. Although rivalry is one of the biggest things parents worry about, it's a normal part of children's "growing pains" and should be curtailed only if it becomes overly hostile or harmful. Interestingly, Dunn observed that preschool children who have frequent conflict with their siblings are particularly likely to share, help, and cooperate.
  • Feelings within the family make a difference. Although children's temperaments (personalities) are important in sister/brother relationships, how parents feel and act towards each other affects how brothers and sisters get along (or don't). When fathers have warm relationships with their children and don't "play favorites" and when both parents perceive their family as close, siblings have more positive relationships and less conflict.

The content on these pages is provided as general information only and should not be substituted for the advice of your physician.



Categories: Family,


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