- Kim Bogren Owen
Becoming a Brother or Sister
We all hope our children will become more than siblings. We hope they will be more than brothers and sisters. We want them to be life-long friends who support and care for each other, but when they are children we may worry that this is not going to happen. This can be espeically true when a new baby first arrives, and the older child feels displaced. As parents we create a caring family by helping older children adjust to the new reality, know they are loved, and know they are needed. Here are some book recommendations to help you do that and to normalize the challenges adjusting to the big changes a new sibling brings.
Preparing before the new baby comes is key, and helps to create positive, yet realistic, expections. Simple books, such as The New Baby by Fred Rogers, The New Baby at Your House by Joanna Cole, and I'm A Big Brother and I'm A Big Sister, also, by Joanna Cole can help to prepare children for the arrival of the baby. As you read these books talk about how you are getting ready for the baby, and include your older child in some decisions about the baby.
Your child may feel jealous as they watch you prepare for the baby, espeically if you are reusing some of their old things. And it is not unusual for them to be jealous even if they haven't used the item for years! A book that explores those emotions is Peter's Chair by Ezra Jack Keats. Try to give your child some choice in what they get to keep for themselves and what they will give to the baby. Or have them pick out new things, such as a big kid bed, so the baby can use the crib.
For books that help older children understand that they are still valued members of the family, and that validate their feelings read:
Julius: The Baby of the World by Kevin Henkes;
The New Small Person by Laura Childs;
Babies Can't Eat Kimchee! by Nancy Patz and Susan L. Roth, and
On Mother's Lap by Ann Herbert Scott and Glo Coalson.
All of these books explore in an authentic manner the emotions older children experience when a new sibling arrives. These books come up with elegant solutions to the challenges of being the big kid while validiating the feelings of older siblings. This helps them know their feelings are acceptable and that they are still important. And just as importantly, these books will make you and your child smile at the antics of the older kids!
For a just plain silly read about a new baby try Alligator Baby by Robert Munsch and Micheal Martchenko. Mom and Dad keep bringing home the wrong baby, and of course, only big brother realizes it! Have fun with this one by asking your older child if their sibling is an alligator, etc.
All of these books will spark conversations that will get your child talking about their feelings about the new baby, as well as ideas for how to ease the transition and help your older child move into their new role as the big kid. This will help them begin the work of becoming a brother or sister in a family filled with love, respect, and friendship!