Giving the Gift of a Sibling
Are you and your spouse considering having another child or has your child been asking for a sibling? With National Sibling Day right around the corner, we unpack the role of siblings and how your family can prepare for another child.
What should parents consider before having another child?
Parents should keep the following pointers in mind before welcoming another bundle of joy into the family home:
1. Why now? – Are we having another child due to external pressures or are we really ready for one?
2. Is my family ready? – While having another child brings a new dimension of happiness, it also adds another layer of stress and responsibilities to the family. Ensure that your family is ready for this transition.
3. How can my family prepare for the changes together? – Parenting one child and more children are very different. You have to learn how to balance the needs of one child while tending to the newborn. Thus, align your family and make sure that you have the support needed to transit through this new change.
Both parents should discuss and understand where each side is coming from before making the final decision. This might take a while depending on each parent’s readiness to approach the topic or other responsibilities that take priority. If you are still unsure, consider how your child would benefit from having a sibling.
Once you have decided to start planning for the second child, you should prepare your first child for the upcoming changes.
How can parents prepare their child for a new sibling?
Tell your child: It is best to break the news when the baby bump is more prominent, which is around the 12th week of pregnancy . Factor in your child’s age, so that you can deliver the news appropriately. Younger children may need help understanding the concept of siblings, while you can be more direct with children above four years old . Try preparing a response for possible reactions, as your child might interpret the news differently from what you expect. Make sure that your child is also in a good mood to avoid tantrums.
Be involved: Get your child involved in preparing for the arrival of their sibling. For example, ask them to pick out a toy for their sibling, or help with the chores such as decorating the nursery. But be mindful not to overdo it to prevent your child from feeling that they need to help out to get your attention.
Prepare to answer questions: Your child may have a lot of questions about their new sibling. Answer these questions honestly and directly. Be patient as your child is still trying to understand the new situation.
Give your child assurance: Your child may or may not have taken the news well. Regardless of their response, it is important to let your child know that you love them unconditionally and just as much as you love their new sibling. Find uninterrupted time to spend with your child one-on-one, doing the things that they love to show that you still love and care for them.
How to navigate sibling rivalry?
Sibling rivalry is the animosity shared between two or more children from the same family. For young children, rivalry with a sibling can lead to name-calling, bickering, or fighting for a parent’s attention .
It is natural for parents to feel distressed when their children seem to have a bad relationship. Children are still learning to manage their emotions and communicate their needs in a way that does not hurt others. Allow your children the opportunity to settle their differences between themselves. Usually, most siblings can compromise and reconcile in a short time. However, if an argument between siblings results in violence, you may have to interfere.
As a mediator for your children, listen to how each child is feeling and guide them accordingly. For example, your children could be arguing over which movie to watch on movie night. You can create a schedule that decides who picks the movie for that night, and gently guide your children to give in.
Your family needs time to adjust after another child is born. Be more patient during this transition phase as it can foster stronger bonds, which makes the home environment feel warmer and more welcoming for your growing family.
TOUCH Parenting aims to strengthen parent-child relationships by providing parents with relevant parenting resources through every stage of their parenting journey. It conducts informative talks and workshops which empower parents with knowledge on how to talk to kids, parenting in the digital age, and nurturing resilient children and youths. It also conducts a parenting workshop which provides help for new parents in preparing for and raising a new-born.
1. Yanek, Dawn. “How to Tell Your Kid You're Pregnant: An Age-by-Age Guide.” Today's Parent, 27 July 2020, https://www.todaysparent.com/pregnancy/being-pregnant/how-to-tell-your-kid-youre-pregnant-an-age-by-age-guide/.
2. Garey, Juliann. “Preparing Your Child for a New Sibling.” Child Mind Institute, 2 Aug. 2022, https://childmind.org/article/preparing-child-new-sibling/#ages-4-6-years.
3. “Why Siblings Are Good for Your Health.” Medicareful Living, Ritter Insurance Marketing, 21 Sept. 2021, https://living.medicareful.com/why-siblings-are-good-for-your-health.