Our Child Psychologist and Clinical Director – Dr Johnson is featured in the December edition of London Baby.
Dr Johnson answered a series of questions to help mother and baby, here is a copy of the article;
Expecting a Winter Baby – Preparing Older Siblings / Firstborns for a New Arrival
Rachel is a Clinical Psychologist specialising in work with children and families. Rachel helps children and families of all ages with behavioural, emotional and development issues. Areas of expertise include managing anxiety, assessing children for dyslexia and positive parenting support.
Preparing for a new baby brings a wonderful mix of emotions, from anticipation to anxiety, this is an exciting time. For second-time parents, however, preparing older children for the arrival raises a whole new list of questions and challenges, both before and after the birth.
Q1: Our son will be 22 months old when his baby sister arrives next month. We’ve read some books together about having a new baby in the house. What else can I do to help him understand?
It’s an exciting time for your 22 month old; he will most likely want to get involved in all of the baby activities. There are some considerations to be made to insure he does not feel left out or stressed by the new arrival.
Here are 5 TOP tips to make the transition a smooth one:
1. Take time out (even if its just 10 minutes) to re-assure him that he is still just as important
2. Talk about babies you see and the things they need. If you can, take time to explain about feeding times (whether breast or bottle) and make him part of the learning process
3. Take time to talk about when he was a baby while looking at his old photos if you have them to hand.
4. Explain what will happen when mummy goes into hospital; keep it age appropriate and lighthearted to prepare him for the special day.
5. Avoid changes to routines if possible to help him feel secure, ie don’t take on
big steps like potty training or moving to a big bed while things feel a little unsettled with the new baby.
Q2: Since the birth of her sister a month ago, my 5 year old’s behaviour has really gone downhill –one minute she wants to help, the next she is flying into a tantrum over nothing. What kind of things can I do to help get her back on track?
The arrival of a new sibling can be a tough time for first child. After all, she is used to having sole attention over the last 5 years. Compared to new baby she seems all-grownup but it is important for mom and Dad to remember that she is still only 5 and needs your help to regulate her emotions. One of the most important factors for your five year old will be inclusion. The more you are able to include her during feeding, playing and bathing the less likely she will fell left out which may lead to undesirable behavior as she struggles to get your full attention around baby. It’s also important to take time out (even if its just 15 minutes while dad holds baby) to have “big girl quality time” where you can talk about topics that might be concerning her.
This might sound like a trivial amount of time, but it will make all the difference helping your 5 year old to feel happy about the new arrival able to cope with all the changes taking place.
Also I would always recommend that families try and appreciate that it is ‘early days’, so try and bear with it. Be patient and do your best to see it from her perspective even when your feeling frustrated and probably tired. She is making huge adjustments too. She needs to learn to live with the shared attention but at the same time be re-assured that she hasn’t been replaced.
Q3: I’m 11 weeks pregnant and we’re looking forward to being able to share our big news with friends and family after my scan next week. My husband thinks that it’s too early to tell our 2 year old son but I think it’s better that he hears it from us first – who’s right?
I would recommend that it might be wise to wait until after your scan as the risk of miscarriage declines after the second trimester.
Telling her first will make her feel important but be realistic and don’t expect her to keep it a secret. Once he knows It will take planning to tell your friends and family without your 2 year old coming out with it first. Perhaps let him deliver the news if he promises to keep it a secret until the right time J
While explaining the arrival try to find tangible ways to explain the time frame using landmark dates such as Christmas/his birthday or visible seasonal changes like Autumn “when the leaves start to fall’.
Organise a quiet time to answer questions honestly and don’t have the conversation during a stressful time when things are changing. This may take a little preparation but delivery is everything when it comes to children trying to understand such an emotive change..
You can see the magazine version here: http://www.babylondon.co.uk/digitalwinter12