How Will My Children Handle My New Pregnancy?
A new pregnancy is often a very happy time for the parents-to-be; however, the current children in the house may not feel the same way. The news of a new baby coming into the family can create anxiety, regression, and resentment among the smaller members of your household. You may be wondering how to handle the concerns, what to expect of your current children, and how to make the transition as easy as possible. Below are a few things you may need to consider and some tips on how to get through the transition as smoothly as possible.
Breaking the News
One of the first things you need to think about with a new pregnancy is breaking the news to your children. It is important that your children are among the first to know of your new pregnancy. While the news may be hard for them to hear, learning of a new pregnancy from someone other than their parents can cause some resentment. Dr. Margret Nickels, a clinical psychologist and director of the Center for Children and Families at the Erikson Institute, recommends you be available and ready to answer all of your child’s questions. She says, “You want to be sure that you're available to support the child in their questions, in their excitement.” She also recommends that you wait to tell your child until you are prepared for the news to leak to other people, such as grandparents or friends. It may be hard for your child to keep that big of a secret.
After you break the news to your children, you may experience different reactions from each child. While a preschooler may not seem too concerned about a new baby, an older child may express anger or even resentment. All of these reactions are normal and you may just need to allow each child time to adjust in their own way. There are some studies showing that a child’s personality has the most affect on how they react to a new baby, as well as a child who is close to her mother – she may have a harder time accepting a new baby than a child who is closer to the father.
How to Handle the Emotions
There are several different tactics you can employ to help your child deal with the imminent arrival of the new baby. One of the most important things Dr. Margret Nickels suggests is to not make any major changes just before or just after the arrival of a new baby. Change rooms, beds, daycares, and other routines well before, or well after, the arrival of the new baby so that your child doesn’t blame the baby for the changes.
You can also read books about new siblings for the baby, such as Aren't You Lucky!, by Catherine and Laurence Anholt; A Baby for Max, by Kathryn Lasky and Maxwell Knight; The New Baby, by Fred Rogers; and How A Baby Grows, by Nola Buck.
Involving your children in picking out new items for the baby and taking your child along to your ultrasound or prenatal appointments can also help your children develop a bond before the new baby arrives.
It is important to be open and honest with your children about the new baby. If they are having trouble adjusting, talk with them about their feelings and help them develop a plan on how to deal with their concerns.