A new baby may present problems if there are already other children in the family. The mother and father will have spent time preparing their other children for this new arrival, and they will be looking forward to seeing their new baby brother or sister. However, the first excitement will soon wear off as they realise that the new baby takes up a lot of their parents’ time and energy and they will not get the attention they used to have. Much will depend upon the character of the older children. If they are fairly placid, able to play by themselves and feel secure, then they will welcome the new baby with few reservations. For an older child who is very sensitive and used to having the whole of his or her mother’s attention, the intrusion of a new baby can be very traumatic, and can result in a jealousy which never really disappears.
Signs ofor young children can include:
• clinging to their mother all the time, and not wanting to let her out of their sight.
• not wanting to go to bed, or having nightmares.
• bed wetting, and reverting to babyish ways.
• aggressive behaviour towards the baby and other children.
• temper tantrums and attention seeking.
• becoming withdrawn, moody and unresponsive. Parents can help to combat this jealousy by:
• setting aside special times especially for the other children.
• the father and other relations giving more time to the other children.
• encouraging the other children to help their motherthe new baby, prepare his pram, get his clothes out, etc., and giving older children the responsibility of taking the baby for walks and playing with him (under supervision).
• constantly telling the other children how much they are loved and needed.
• never comparing the virtues of the new baby with the poor behaviour or achievements of his brothers and sisters; for example, by saying ‘the new baby is already trying to sit up; you weren’t doing that at his age’.
Sometimes parents over-indulge their other children, in order to try to avoid jealousy arising. A happy balance should be sought, and parents should remember that it is natural for siblings to be competitive. They will not be all the same – some will have stronger personalities and be natural leaders – but they will all contribute to the development of the others, and help to make each other more independent, caring and generous.