From Parents, To Referee: Balancing a Growing Family

Coping with a second baby? Your challenge is mostly going to come from your firstborn… Here is a helping hand!

There’s that funny quote – “having one child makes you a parent, two makes you a referee…” While parenthood is probably the most wonderful thing that could happen to you, there are issues galore having just one child… If you have two, along with the added chores, responsibilities and such, there are adjustment issues your first child may experience. Here are some tips (easier said than done, though!) for parents already with children trying to cope with a newborn…

  1. Empathize with your first-born: Don’t get shocked or teary-eyed if your firstborn violently yells, “I never wanted the baby. Give it back – I hate it!” Of course your child never wanted a baby, why would s/he? Young children don’t “plan” or “see” things the way we do – to them a baby is simply someone who is suddenly interfering with the time they had with their parents. To combat this, hug your child and tell him/her that you understand where s/he comes from, and that it’s okay to feel this way. But one day, his/her sibling is going to be a lot of fun to be with…
  2. Give “extra” time: Give lots of snuggles, cuddles, kisses and extra cozy time to your firstborn. This does not mean giving into their unreasonable demands or not disciplining them, but on the whole, shower positive affection on them. Just a sudden hug, some added lap time or an impromptu drive could be a joy to them.
  3. Provide undivided attention: Be it as a mother or father, your firstborn has the right to have you fix your sole attention on him or her. Ensure that for some special time in the day, your baby is being taken care of by a helper (grandparent, spouse, etc.). If this isn’t possible most days, aim for separate nap times so that each child can have your undivided attention for a bit each day. Pay attention to your firstborn – paint with them, read books, or just horse around. This will make him or her more secure…
  4. Involve him: Be it giving baby a bath, changing a diaper, taking him for a vaccine – involve your firstborn in it all for him or her to get a better sense of family and belonging. Once s/he understands that the baby is as much his or hers as yours, acceptance will be that much easier!

Lastly, if all fails and you still are floundering between your aggressive firstborn and hapless baby, seek professional help. The best place would be your pediatrician who may recommend a child psychologist for you to better understand your child and address his needs/fears.

You are the adult in the situation – however tired, overworked or emotional you may be – do not lose sight of that. Most of us have been in this boat some time or the other – remember that we have to be fair to all our children. Sidelining one or favoring another will turn their childlike tantrums into lifelong resentments…

Do write in with any tips you may have used or learnt in the comments section below…

Happy parenting! 

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