I got a text from a friend who just gave birth and was asking me for advice on sibling jealousy. This brings me back 12 years ago. I distinctly remember the scene at the hospital. I just gave birth to our second child, Janina, and Nathan came to visit her for the first time. I purposedly positioned Janina down on the bed so when Nathan came in the room, he would have access to me or to the baby, wherever he wanted to go to first. After giving me a tight hug, he immediately went on the hospital bed to take a closer look at his baby sister. His face was beaming, he was all smiles, he was a proud kuya (big brother!) That was the start of a wonderful brother-sister relationship which holds until today!
Nathan was an only child for three and a half years until I gave birth to Janina. He was our firstborn, and he was the first grandchild on both sides, thus he was used to our undivided attention, and we knew we had to thoroughly prepare him for the arrival of his sister. I’ve heard stories when the older child became aggressive towards the baby, or on the other extreme, became withdrawn from everyone, because of jealousy. We were determined to make sure this didn’t happen.
Different kids react differently to a new sibling. Most will be excited. They require little preparation. They’re instantly the ideal kuya or ate. But some kids on the other hand, require more preparation. They don’t instantly bond with their baby brother or sister. Some feel a resentment towards the new baby. A few blogs ago, I wrote about how preparation can be a key to a lot of our children’s successes. Here are a few ideas to make the transition easier.
Once you know you’re pregnant, refrain from statements like “you’re not my baby anymore.” You need to constantly assure your kids that your love for them will not change even with the coming of the baby. You also need to stop people who tease them about this.
Show him pictures of your developing baby week by week or month by month. You can buy a book or look for pictures on the internet. Explain how your baby is growing.
You can buy a doll to practice having a baby around. You can use it as a tool to teach your other kids how to be gentle with babies- no eye poking, no fingers in ears, mouth, how they need to be quiet when the baby is sleeping, etc.
You can pull out the pictures of your older child from right after he was born, and talk about how excited you were to have him in the family. Tell them stories about how cute he was, what he did when he was very small, how he cried, how he slept.
Take siblngs shopping for stuff for the baby. Let them pick out clothes, blankets, toys. Bring them to your doctor’s appointments.
Organize a playgroup for your older child before baby’s born so he feels he has his own group.
You can make a “big brother/sister” or “I’m a kuya or ate” shirt with your older kids.
Take the older child out for a special date for just the two of you or a special day of fun just before the baby is born.
Get them a gift from the baby when the baby is born . If the baby arrives and immediately has a present for the older sibling it might help turn a positive swing on it.
When you first see the other kids after giving birth, when they come to visit you in the hospital, don’t hold the baby so you can give them a hug first. Leave the baby in the bassinet so they could run over and jump in the bed to see you and spend a few minutes with you and then introduce them to the baby.
When your friends and relatives come to visit, tell them to say hi to your other children first before the baby.
When your older child asks for your attention, never say that you can’t because the baby needs you. Whenever you can, try to accommodate the older child first. If you can delegate other things to the yaya like changing the diaper or burping, do so, so you have time for the other kids.
Ask help from your older child when you’re giving the baby a bath or changing diapers. When you’re breastfeeding, don’t exclude your older child. You can ask him to sit beside you and watch a video together as you feed your baby.
Do not make other changes like potty training or moving to another bed. Do these changes before the baby is born or a few months after he has adjusted to having the baby at home.
The arrival of your new baby should be a wonderful time for everyone. And with effort and some creativity, it will be!
There are many reasons why we love homeschooling. Over the next few weeks and months, I will be talking to you about each one of them. But today, let me tell you what’s on top of my list.
Homeschooling allows us more time to address the issues of our children’s hearts.
Some of our children’s behavioral problems go unnoticed and are not dealt with simply because we are not there. But since our kids are home most of the time, and we are intereacting most of the day, I am able to spot character flaws and bad attitudes and can deal with them right away.
Arguing, whining, complaining, fighting between siblings, sarcasm, temper tantrums, laziness, impatience, lack of respect for parents… these are only the external behavior that indicate what is inside their hearts. These behaviors are only the fruit of heart issues like selfishness, pride, ungratefulness. If Ryan gives me a snide remark during class, I have no problem dropping my curriculum so I can deal with his sarcasm. I am on the lookout for moments like these, when I can go beyond math and science, and address their heart.
It is never easy when I’d have to deal with my children’s wrong attitudes. It can be physically tiring and emotionally draining. And when it gets messy, those are the times I start questioning our decision to homeschool. Thoughts like “My life would be so much easier if they were in a regular school” enter my mind. But when I get back to my senses, I realize that this is precisely why we chose to homeschool – so we can have an upperhand on developing their character.
To educate our children means to form their minds and shape their hearts. Too often we get caught up with the academic side of it. To me that is the easier part. Whether our children are in homeschool or regular school, we as parents, with God’s grace and wisdom, need to work hard at shaping their hearts.
When Joaquin turned two, his yaya (nanny) had to leave because she was due to give birth in a few months. I was anxious about Joaquin adjusting to the new one I hired. True enough, I saw how Joaquin acted rudely towards her. When she would just start to approach him, he would shout “Go away!” And when she would be close enough, Joaquin would slap her on the face. Something that Joaquin never really did to any of us.
What do you do in a situation like this?
While it was completely wrong for Joaquin to shout and hit a person like that, I understood why he did it. He simply didn’t like that person. Not because he’s just a baby means that he should like everyone instantly. Whether this concerns a house helper, or a tita, or a playmate, we need to respect their personal preferences too. Shouting and hitting is their way to express what they cannot verbally articulate yet…that they just dont want to be forced to be held or even be near someone they don’t like.
So two things I did. First, I disciplined him for shouting and hitting. I didn’t want him to think that it was okay to hurt someone that he didn’t like, because rudeness is an unacceptable behavior. Second, I looked for another yaya. I showed him I respected his feelings by not forcing anyone on him that he wasn’t comfortable with. Thank God it didn’t take me that long to find the yaya whom he openly welcomed!
Just as we as adults have preferences in terms of people we spend time with or allow to come close to us, young children do too. And we need to respect that.
I stood with Joaquin at the back of the wedding venue, waiting with him for his turn to walk down the aisle. Nervously I wondered if he would do exactly as we rehearsed. I didn’t want to end up having to walk down with him. I instructed two of our friends to take his photos and video because this was a special moment for us, if he did walk. The boy before him didn’t want to go, so he had to be carried by his dad. This made me more anxious. Joaquin might follow his example, oh no. When finally he was given the signal, I just told him softly “Okay Joaquin, you may now walk.” And off he went. The first few steps were unsure, with him looking back at me as if asking for assurance that he was doing ok. I gave him a nod and a big smile and motioned for him to keep walking. I watched him move farther and farther from me and closer and closer to the finish line. Whew! Mission accomplished!
It was Joaquin’s first time to be a Bible Bearer in a wedding and he had no idea how to be one. I knew it would take preparation to make him fulfill his role successfully. I looked for videos of ring bearers on YouTube and made him watch them. We practiced many times at home and I would give him a treat everytime he did it properly. I promised him that he would get gummy bears as soon as he’s done walking down the aisle.
Preparation is key to a lot of our children’s successes. There are a lot of daily situations that are made easier and less stressful with some preparation. An example is whenever we go to a party, we prep our children in the car that there will be a lot of people who would know them and that they need to greet each one politely. Or whenever we are in a play place, and we know it’s never easy for them to leave, we tell them ten minutes before it’s time to go that they only have ten minutes left and when we say it’s time to go, we expect them to obey right away.
Preparing our kids for the things they need to do sets them up for success. Let’s take the extra effort.