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Big Sib Training

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-If you already have kids, bringing a new baby home comes with a whole special set of challenges. Dr. Arthur Lavin, author of Who's the Boss? Moving Families from Conflict to Collaboration, is here to help you with a smooth transition. So good to have you back in the studio. -Thanks much. Good to be back. -So, a lot of kids have a really hard time when the baby comes home. My daughter, who was three at that time, had a complete and total meltdown when the new baby came home. It also, just finding out that mommy's pregnant is a big deal. When is the best time to break the news? -When the parents think about the when to tell their children a big news, especially a very big news, like a baby joining the family, the natural tendency is to put it off as late as possible, 'cause who wants their home all disrupted all of a sudden, and for many months before delivery. But it turns out, that from a very early age, perhaps even from birth, babies, young children, are attuned to each of their parent's emotional life. Best to think of it as being plugged in together somehow. So, when the mother knows that she's pregnant, the toddler almost always knows something is up. If you think about it, you know, when you grow up, that when you are older and your mom tells you about Uncle so and so, who did this to her that, it's rarely a surprise. It's more of a filling in of information. We know something was going on with Uncle so and so. All we're learning are the facts this quick. And so does with pregnancy. The child knows something's up and can feel the feelings that mom and dad have. So it's best, once a child's over 2 years of age and can understand at least a little of what you're talking about, to tell them as soon as you have gone public with the information. -And you also don't wanna-- or have them to overhear a conversation between mom and dad or somebody else that you're pregnant and start, you know, processing that on their own. -Sure, you know, you could be in the kitchen and your child would be watching TV in the living room, you're talking to your bestfriend about this pregnancy, and then you're excited about this, you're not excited about that, and your child's having peanut butter and jelly, watching TV, and you can't imagine they're actually picking up anything that you're saying-- -But they are. -but they hear every word. -Okay. So, once you're older children know that's the time to start preparing them for the arrival. And in your book you suggest, making a book. What do you mean by them? How do you make the book? -Well, it's very simple actually, Julie. All you have to do is have the child draw picture on the title page about, you know, My Book. You could use your child's name for the title. And then in it, you have each page describe an adventure or a memory or something related about the new baby coming. Now your child's an author. They have a book. It's about their little baby brother or sister. And they feel some excitement about it. What you really wanna do is build curiosity, excitement and try to distract or prevent resentment or jealousy. -And also, sleeping arrangements can be a big problem. If you have one child in the crib and you need that crib for the younger baby, you wanna make that transition early on, so they have time to get used to it? -Absolutely, transitioning from a crib takes advantage of the time the pregnancy gives you. Another reason to tell your older child about the pregnancy that everyone else knows about, is it gives you and the whole family time to make those changes. In the case of the crib, if you're going to be using that crib for the new born, you want that older child in with you. I could be part of the book, the adventure of taking down the crib, building a new bed for the older child, and making that crib available for the baby. -It can be something special. -Exactly. -To do it together as a family, but overall, you really don't wanna make too many changes before the baby comes. Keep things sort of the same? -Well, you don't wanna embark on any great steps forward for the older child. Best example would be potty training, probably a bad idea to take a 2-1/2 year old or 3 year old and start potty training a week before delivery. -I sure wish I met you. A couple of years ago, when I tried to do that and then my daughter regress. So after the baby came, she started going back, you know, having accidents and needing to be in a diaper again and wanting her bottle again, but that's textbook, textbook. -Absolutely, regression happens even to adults. Anytime you try something new, you always wanna take a step back to something more comfortable. And that's all that regression really is. If you're 30 years old, and you take a step back to 29, no one notice the difference. But if you're 3 years old, and you take a step back to being 2, all sort of skills disappear. -To expect your toddler to know one will be held more, one will have the bottle, maybe a pacifier, everything that the baby has. -Uh huh. Being a baby looks like a key to mama's heart. So, being a baby is a very attractive proposition. -Exactly. Okay, you should be suspicious, though you say, if you're not seeing any jealousy from your child, why, because I would think "Oh, this is great. She doesn't mind having a little brother home." -Well, we mentioned on the book that, you can't assume that everything is okay if no jealousy is shown. You know the old saying, still waters run deep. Things may be okay on a given day, I've heard, it's going all right. But just keep in mind for the long haul, that everybody has feelings even an easy-going, generally giving and caring infant or older child. -I think I'm gonna be calling you quite a bit. -I'd be glad to help. -You have been a huge help today. Thank you so much. -And for more advice from Dr. Lavin, you can go to Wtbox.com. Thanks so much for watching Parents TV. See you next time.