Baby arrives: the place of the older child

Baby arrives: the place of the older child
It’s important to highlight the value of her role as the eldest from the start. To help her understand how awesome it can be to be the eldest, you can also give your child certain age appropriate “privileges”.

Becoming a big brother or sister isn’t easy! The reality is that when the second child arrives, the eldest loses her place as centre of your universe, which often sets off feelings of anxiety or anger, at least at the beginning. If you don’t want your firstborn to see the baby as a “love sucker,” you need to reassure her and keep repeating that you still love just as much and that she hasn’t lost her place in the family.

It’s important to highlight the value of her role as the eldest from the start, says Michèle Lambin. “You can do things like getting her involved in your newborn’s daily routine by asking her to help you change his diaper or comfort him when he cries. If she likes to take care of the baby, chances are she’ll take her role very seriously, delighted with this responsibility and her new place as the ‘big kid.’ ”

“Samuel and Felix took their role as older brothers seriously from day one. They’re very affectionate with their baby sister, they adore her and they want to hold her and kiss her. They always ask to take care of her.”

Vincent David, father to five-year-old Samuel, three-year-old Felix and six-month-old Charlotte

To help her understand how awesome it can be to be the eldest, you can also give your child certain age appropriate “privileges,” like playing board games or watching cartoons with you, suggests Gagnier. If the eldest has already acquired some independence before the birth of the second child—if she’s potty trained and no longer sleeps in a crib, for example—things will go a little more smoothly. “She’ll be less tempted to compete with the baby for the same needs,” explains the psychologist. She also suggests pointing out baby’s positive reactions towards her older sister: “Look how she smiles when you take care of her. I think she loves you a whole lot!” This will help strengthen their bond.

For the younger child, who only knows second place, becoming a big brother or sister is easier. Since sharing her parents’ attention with the eldest has always been a fact of life, she generally has an easier time accepting a new brother or sister.