Preparing your child for a new sibling

I have a nine-year-old son who is not happy about having a sibling. I am only five weeks pregnant but have already told him. I'm trying to include him in everything we do with the baby. Do you have any suggestions?


Congratulations on the news! You must be very excited about the addition to your family. I'm sure that, in time, your son will be excited, too.

Including your son in preparations for the baby's arrival is a good idea. He needs to become accustomed to the idea of having a sibling. Allowing him to help with the arrangements may also bring him closer to the baby once he or she finally arrives. He can help you narrow down names, choose a theme for the baby's room, paint and decorate and shop for furniture.

At the same time, your son needs to know that his place in your family is safe. While it can be easy to dismiss this feeling as silly, it should be acknowledged and treated seriously. Let him know that even though you are excited about having another child in your family, your love for him will remain the same.

Actions are as important as words. Try to keep your son involved in the same activities as he is right now, and encourage him to participate in new activities, too. Continue to attend school functions, sports events and other important occasions in your son's life. And let him know how very proud you are of him and his accomplishments. He may need some reassurance that he won't be forgotten or overlooked in the excitement over the baby.

Books can be a wonderful resource for situations like these. Ask your obstetrician or your son's pediatrician for their recommendations of books for you and for your son to read. A quick glance resulted in the discovery of some appropriate titles. "Why Do We Need Another Baby?": Helping Your Child Welcome a New Arrival by Cynthia MacGregor and Welcoming Your Second Baby by Vicki Lansky may be helpful to you during this transitional period. Search Amazon's web site or your local library or bookstore for more titles on this topic.

Be sure to maintain regular contact with your child's teacher. The changes that take place at home can cause changes in your child's attitude and behavior at home and at school. Ask the teacher to keep you apprised of any changes in your son's disposition or approach to academics.

Try to do little things to encourage him, too. Write quick notes and stick them in his lunch bag. Treat him to a trip to the ice cream shop or video store when he receives a good grade on a test or a note of praise from the teacher. Positive reinforcement and encouragement can be very powerful in developing a child's self-esteem.

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