Bringing a new child into your family is a huge step and your older children may not fully understand what is going on. You will need to respect their feelings as having a new family member can elicit a wide range of emotions. The bond between adopted siblings can be just as strong as the bond between biological siblings, and parents play a critical role in developing that relationship. Here are some tips to help your older children adjust to a new baby and form a sibling bond.
You wouldn’t expect a team to walk into the Super Bowl without a game plan and plenty of practice under their belt, would you? Of course not. Planning ahead is the key to success in any endeavor, and adoption is no exception. Start making plans before your new child joins the family on how you are going to ease the transition for everyone.
Talk to your older child and include them in discussions of the new child that will be joining the family. Explain to them how your love for them won’t be diminished in any way just because there’s going to be another child you’ll care for.
There are also some practical steps you’ll want to put into place before the new kiddo arrives. You’re going to have to find extra time for the baby, so maybe cut down on some time on your long nighttime routine. Set up the nursery and crib with babyproofing so you know your child will be safe.
Read Them Stories About Siblings
Before you introduce your newest member of the family, spend some time with your older children getting them acclimated to the idea of having a sibling. Read books and stories together about siblings so that they have an idea of what a sibling relationship is like so they know what to expect and have something to look forward to. Remember, as a child, nearly every experience is a new one, and they won’t know what it’s like to have a brother or sister.
Know How to Handle Bad Behavior
How your older children react will depend on a wide variety of factors, and it’s important as parents to understand that there is no right way to handle such a momentous change. However, that doesn’t mean that we tolerate bad behavior like throwing temper tantrums. Yes, they are inevitable, they will happen, but if we let them continue, you are encouraging this poor behavior.
Understand that your children aren’t acting out because they want to make your life misery. Often, they may be trying to get your attention, which is now split between another child and this is coming as a shock to them. Help them with verbalizing their emotions, and then offer a way that the two of you could make things better.
What we want as parents is for our children to love each other and share that special sibling bond. If your child starts acting out as soon as you brought the new baby home, bonding can help to correct that. Encourage your older child to help with caring for the baby, like helping with bathtime, helping with meals, or anything else that can help establish that connection.