When a Second Child Is Born

When a Second Child Is Born

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Expert Author Susan Leigh
Many people feel that it is important to have more than one baby to make their family complete. They don't like the idea of having an only child. This may be because they were only children themselves and found the experience to be very lonely. Other people were members of larger families and found that having brothers and sisters was an important and valuable aspect of their lives.
Introducing a second child can require sensitive handling. Often the first child was special, received much attention, was regarded as an angel. Discovering that another baby is coming along can be difficult for a young child to comprehend.
Here are some thoughts on welcoming a second child into your home:
- Jealousy can be a significant factor. Some children may be happy to play with the new baby for a little while, but then have had enough and want it to go away. They were an only child for their entire life until the baby arrived. It can be a difficult time of readjustment, especially if they are then made to leave home and go to school. There can be a sense of being pushed away and rejected.
- Attention can be tough to share. Having had all their mother's attention and then to have a baby come along that requires constant attention can be really difficult to cope with. And often, to compound the problem, if they behave well they are often ignored. This can prompt a child to start behaving badly. Any attention is better than none. It can help if the first-born is included in helping to care for the new baby and then praised enthusiastically for their help. They can then feel valued and included.
- Many parents say that they love their children equally, that they treat them the same. The perception can be different. Some children are nicer than others, they may share more in common with their parents, they may be easier to manage. Parents are human beings. They may love their children the same but like one more than the other. A child can sense that.
- Consistency is important. Consistency between both parents and consistency of treatment from one day to the next matters. Experiencing different rules or different treatment from each parent can be confusing. Children quickly learn to spot any loopholes, weak links or discrepancies and exploit them. Playing one parent against the other or arguing their case logically are skills that children quickly learn to excel at.
- Discipline is important. Clear and fair guidelines are often respected by children. Shouting and violence simply teaches children that behaviour like that is acceptable. Tension, stress and fear often occur in those households. A child in an angry household will learn to tolerate the situation and accept that kind of behaviour as normal.
- Stressed parents may sometimes need to consider the value of asking for help. Pressure on both parents to work, earn money, run the household as well as look after their relationship and home can be difficult to juggle at times. Patience can sometimes be stretched to breaking point. It can be a sign of strength rather than weakness to ask for some assistance. Maybe the children's grandparents or aunts and uncles could baby sit at times, take them out for an occasional weekend afternoon and allow the parents to have some quiet time for themselves.

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