Before I gave birth to my second child Katie in December, I was nervous our oldest child June, 3 1/2, would have a hard time with the transition. I’d heard stories from other parents about older toddlers lashing out, getting competitive, regressing and not accepting mommy and daddy’s latest bundle of joy competing for their time. But so far, June seems to have accepted the change like a pro. In fact, she loves having a new sibling.
I should probably knock wood before saying that because one thing parenting has taught me is that change turns on a dime. June might be loving and accepting of her little sis today but morph into evil, jealous sister tomorrow. But for now, today, she’s handling it like an ace. She loves helping out. She loves assisting me in changing diapers. She asks to help feed her, and she’ll happily scamper up the stairs when I tell her I need a fresh onesie. She loves holding her, cradling her, talking to her. June was born to be a big sis.
I like to think it’s because I became vigilant about prepping June for the big day, helping her mentally prepare for her world that was about to be rocked, so that by the time Katie came along, it was no big thing.
Here are the 3 big things I did to help June ready herself for a younger sibling:
1. I talked up the role of the big sister. I made a point of telling June what a big job being a big sister is. Little sis looks up to big sis, so we have to set a good example. Little sis can’t do all of the things big sis can so we have to be patient and help her. I like to think this helped June feel important in her new role and want to do the best job possible.
2. We read a lot of books and watched DVDs about sisters. June’s favorite was Dora the Explorer – Big Sister Dora, which made being an older sibling seem like a cool and fun adventure. June must have watched it 175 times before I gave birth. She has whole chunks of Dora, Boots, Map and Backpack dialogue memorized.
3. We fondly reminisced about June’s baby days. We looked at her baby photos together. We talked about her favorite books when she was one (Dear Zoo, Cowboy Small). I told her she used the same kind of pacifier Katie does today. Listening to stories about herself when she was super young helped her feel less threatened about other small fries.
Those three strategies worked like a charm; the transition from one kid to two has been really smooth. What worked for you?