Tuesday, May 17, 2016

Tips on How to Prepare a Child to Be an Older Sibling

He was used to being an only child. For three years, he had my undivided attention. We had a lot of time bonding with each other through play, conversations, books, storytelling, crafts, music time, dates, etc. He certainly was the apple of my eye. 

Then, I learned that I'm pregnant again. 

I did my best to still bond with him a lot and assure him that I still love him just the same. I searched big brother books that I can read to him. I was grateful I found one. 

I talked to him about his baby brother in my womb. I let him play music and sing songs to him. 

I brought him with me in my monthly visits to my ob-gynaecologist. We let him join us in some of the ultrasound sessions. 

He seemed excited and adjusting well to his role of becoming a big brother.




Then, it was time for me to give birth to my second child. My eldest son stayed at my parents' house. He slept with my parents when I went to the hospital. It was a difficult time for him. He was not used to sleeping without me by his side. He cried a lot during the nights that I was in the hospital going through labor and recuperating from childbirth.

But he was happy when he saw me again and his baby brother when he visited us in the hospital.

Two weeks after I gave birth, he acted differently. My usually active and talkative little boy didn't have the energy to play. He didn't want to eat or drink. He was not talking. He just kept sleeping and lying in bed. I knew something was wrong. I thought that he was sick but he didn't have any fever or was not showing signs that he was in pain.

A few days later, he was so weak. My husband decided to bring him to the hospital already.

His pediatrician had him confined. He was put on IV. He still didn't talk or eat or drink. He was still quiet and looked sad. He lost a lot of weight.

The doctors could not find any reason for his loss of appetite or "sickness" other than probably his difficulty in adjusting to our new normal in the family. He now has a baby brother. He's no longer an only child. His mommy is busy caring for another child. His mommy is breastfeeding another baby. 

He was not suffering from physical pain but he was going through an emotional pain... something that he could not articulate. Something he was not prepared to process or express.

He must have been depressed at that time. 

My poor little boy... I thought he was ready for this change but he was not.

It was a painful time for me as a mother. I was even able to visit him in the hospital because I needed to stay with his baby brother. It was only my husband and my mom who stayed with him in the hospital. I stayed home to recuperate and take care of the new baby.

I did my best to give him extra attention. I tried to be extra understanding and patient with him. I tried to do the same things we used to do so he would feel that my love hasn't changed.

Eventually, he started eating again. He started talking and playing again. He was the loving and helpful big brother again to his younger sibling.

He would sing songs to him. He would read his books to him. He talks to him and shares some of his toys with him. He helps take care of him by rushing to get new diapers or getting some of the things of the baby and bringing them to me.  

I'm so thankful that my eldest child eventually recovered from that emotional turmoil. 



Almost three years later, I got pregnant again. My eldest son will become a big brother for the second time. My second child will no longer be the baby. He will now be a big brother.


I didn't want any or both of them to go through depression again or to get sick after I give birth. 

How can I assure them of my unchanging love? How can I prepare them for their upcoming sibling? 

I thought that I should tell them often that I love them just the same. But how do I remind myself or ensure that I tell them these words often when I have a lot to do and prepare for the coming of our new baby?

Since I had been writing poems almost all my life, I wrote a poem with this title: Mommy Loves You Just the Same.

I drew inspiration from my bonding times with my kids.

I read the poem often to them, daily at least.

I believe that the poem helped my older kids prepare for the coming of their baby brother. My second child did not get sick after I gave birth even though he and his eldest brother were also crying a lot while I was in the hospital during childbirth and on the nights that followed.

I'm so glad things were better this time around.

Then, a dream was planted in my heart. What if we make this poem into a children's book? Why not?

Before my youngest child turned one year old, I found an artist who was willing to collaborate with me in making this dream a reality. On May 19, 2016, Thursday, we will be launching my first children's book! A dream that was planted in my heart because of my experience as a mother. It's like I'm giving birth again. But this time to a book and not to a child. 
Click here to order a copy of Mommy Loves You Just the Same.


My excitement is shared by my two older children who were my inspirations in writing this children's book. They were the ones who first heard this story and who first benefitted from it. 

Are you a pregnant mom who is looking for resources that would help your older child prepare to be an older sibling? Or did you just give birth recently or a few months ago to a new baby and you need help in assuring your older child that your love for him/her remains the same? 

I recommend this book to you, not because I wrote it, but more because I know that it would be a good tool that you can use in your motherhood journey. One of my goals in writing this children's story is to help families adjust as their families grow. That's why I asked our illustrator to make coloring pages for the kids, too. I wanted to give the kids something that would further help them remember the lessons in the book. 


Before I end this post, let me share some tried and tested tips that could help prepare a child to be an older sibling.

1. Stop calling the child "baby". We used to call our second child "baby". But when we got confirmation from my ob-gynaecologist that I'm pregnant again, we started calling our second child by his first name. I also instructed our maids then to stop calling him a baby. Instead, we made him proud to be called a big brother or "Kuya".

2. Deliberately spend more quality time with the older child/children. This is one way to make deposits in your child's emotional bank account in preparation for the times when you will be away from him/her. During my previous pregnancies, I did my best to spend as much time as I possibly can to do arts and crafts with them and to have dates with them. Even when I was on bedrest and after giving birth, I would regularly read-aloud books to them. This poem/story was one of those that I read to them.

3. Give your child/children ideas on how they can bond with you while you are pregnant and with their baby brother while still in your womb and after you give birth. Aside from suggesting to my kids what they can do, I let them come up with their own ideas on how they can help me take care of their baby brother. You'll be amazed at how loving and helpful kids are!

4. Make their birthday before you give birth extra special. On their last birthday before becoming a big brother, I always go out of my way to make these celebrations memorable. I want these events to help make them feel important and special. You may read about my second child's birthday party here. If you don't want to throw a party, you can get some ideas here in my other blog post wherein we had a simple celebration for our eldest son.  

Hope these tips help you and your family! I also hope that you can join us in our virtual book launch on Thursday! We're giving away exciting prizes to those who will pre-order a copy of Mommy Loves You Just the Same. Click here to read more about these. 


Some of the prizes we're giving away during the launch.


How did you prepare your child/children to become older siblings? Feel free to share your own tried and tested tips by leaving a comment on this blog post so we can help more families.
   

55 comments:

  1. Hi Teresa! One thing I read about that helped us was letting my older child be babied when he wanted to be.

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    1. Oh, yes! I agree! Kids still want to be abbied every now and then. :) They still like to sit on my lap when I read or tell stories. They like to snuggle a lot!

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  2. Although I can't really relate to this since I'm not a parent yet nor am I a woman, I will share these tips to my newly-pregnant yaya and my friend. Thanks for this! You have adorable children. :)

    xx
    withkerr.wordpress.com
    kerrph.blogspot.com

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  3. I agree that for expecting parents, the other siblings must be prepped. And then it comes down to the attitude and character of a child. For instance, my elder is a sweet boy. He was, and continues to be. When his younger brother was born, he instinctively wanted to kiss him and take care of him. :)

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    1. It's so nice to see siblings showing love for each other. My heart melts whenever I see my older kids eager to protect and care for their baby brother. :)

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  4. This is so sweet that you did this! I'm sure it makes your sons feel very loved. I don't have any children or siblings, but I am a teacher. It's normal for a child to feel distressed about a new sibling. I think they get over it eventually. Then they are lucky to have a friend for life!

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    1. Thanks for your feedback! :) I agree with you that having a sibling can mean having a friend for life.

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  5. I've only been an only child and if this were to happen to me (if I will still have siblings), I think I may undergo a few emotional turmoil. I will surely take note of this just in case I will have more than one child. Hihi. Oh and btw, your kids are so adorable! :)

    Mariaisquixotic || http://mariaisquixotic.com

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  6. I'm not yet a mother and I don't think I will be anytime soon, hehe. I just feel fortunate to read stuff like this nowadays. Because it somehow gives me that sense of awareness even though I still can't relate with it. I believe that it pays so much when you get yourself prepared for things. :) Your kids are lucky to have you as their mother.

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    1. Thank you, Arrianne. Yes, it pays to be informed and prepared for the future.

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  7. I love the title. Very appropriate indeed for big kuyas and ates to fully understand another gift of life from the Lord. In our family, we didnt give ourselves the opportunity to explain to our kuyas that they will be big brothers na. We flet awkward perhaps or we feared what the boys' reaction would be. But its good to prepare them and have a little talk for them to fully understand what it takes to be an older sibling.

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    1. Thanks, Berlin! I love hearing feedabck from fellow parents. :)

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  8. I hope lots of mom read this. It is really true that you need to prepare your kid/s for the coming baby/ies. I was used to being the youngest kid then after five years got a new sibling. So for the longest time I had middle child syndrome. Hehe

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    1. I also hope, darlene, that many moms or parents read my book. It's one of my goals to help familiesthrough the books that I write. Thanks!

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  9. Wow!! I think my auntie will definitely enjoy this post. I'll give this link to her. lovelots

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  10. A perfect guide for moms and even for children I guess. I had some years before that I hated my younger brother because I am not longer the youngest child. It needs a lot of guidance from parents for the kid to understand and be prepared

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  11. Congrats on your book and I'm sure this will be a big help to other moms. I only have one son who doesn't want to have baby brother or sister, gusto siya lang. hehehe!

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  12. These are great tips! My sister would've used this back then. Ako, not yet ready. Haha. At least I know what to do when the time comes :)

    Nina | http://www.ninasogue.com/

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  13. I sourced for a kids story books too for my 5 year old when I was pregnant with my second child. We would tell Kuya the things he and our little baby can do together and he was really excited (until he saw the little one and realized the little one cant do much). He was a very responsible Kuya though and I think he matured early when our 2nd came out....

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    1. Isn't it a joy to see our kids showing love and concern for each other? :) So sweet!

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  14. I'm honored to be featured in the blog of an experience chidlren's book author, teacher librarian and representative for the Philippine Board on Books for Young People! You may read about my interview here: http://lovealibrarian.blogspot.com/2016/05/author-interview-ma-teresa-gumap-as.html

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  15. Here's a book review of #MommyLovesYouJusttheSame from the same author, Zarah Gagatiga: http://lovealibrarian.blogspot.com/2016/05/book-review-mommy-loves-you-just-same.html

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  16. Oh wow, it's my first time to hear of a child that deeply affected by the arrival of a new baby. My middle child shows signs but he's more competitive than he is withdrawn.

    I've heard about your book. I can't wait to read Janice Lim's review on it. :)

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  17. This could be really difficult. I still can't imagine how I will explain to my son when the time he'll become a brother. Thanks for sharing your experience. This gives me idea how I will handle it when that time comes.

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  18. Hi Teresa! Last night, Rio was asking if I have a baby in my tummy. I told him, I don't have a baby in it and asked him if he wanted to have a baby brother or sister. I want a baby brother! Aaaaaw. I'd really like to see my little Rio playing with his younger brother/sister. But I'm not getting any younger and went a lot of meds to have our Rio. I'd like to read this book to my son to help me explain the concept of family love which he can share with his cousins and other relatives.

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  19. That was a tough time for your older son, but I'm so glad he's fully recovered. I love the title of your book, and I know that a lot of moms with more than one kid will surely benefit from reading it.

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  20. It's heartbreaking to learn about how your eldest dealt with the idea of a new baby. It's good that you came up with a book because this will be super helpful for other parents. I remember when I saw my eldest again after I gave birth, I had to reach out to him with extra effort. Good thing though that he warmed up soon enough.

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    1. It was really heartbreaking. AT first he was very eager. But as the doctor said, he might have unexpressed feelings when he finally saw the baby at home. Since he could not articulate his feelings yet, his body just manifested them. :(

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  21. This book just sounds super awesome and helpful. I don't recall having resentful feelings when I became a big sister, but not all kids are made the same. I'll surely remember this book if ever another blessing comes along to our lives!

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    1. That's true. Not all kids adjust easily. Some kids need some time to absorb the news. :)

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  22. Ohhh mommy, this helped me. My hubby and I are planning to have a baby by next year and I am afraid that my son will be "out of the scene" na when a new baby arrived. I bookmarked this post of yours so I will go back to this when I conceive na.

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  23. I'm a first time mum of a now 10-month old baby boy. :) I'm a big sister, myself, but was never jealous of my little sister because she's only 11 months younger nor my little brother because he died when he came out. I still cry when I visit him, though. I hope in the still far-off future that I will be able to help my son transition into being kuya as gracefully as I can.

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  24. I only have 1 baby for now. He just turned 1-year-old this month and we do not plan on giving him a baby sister yet (I only plan on having 1 boy and 1 girl sana). For me he's still my baby! Hehe siguro when he asks for a sibling na lang. :D but I am glad that there is a book like this for us to read together when the time comes na he'll be having a baby sister na. I agree that it's really emotionally challenging for the first borns to adjust to the feeling of being an ate or kuya. I, myself, am the eldest in the family that's why I understand the feeling. anyway, i am glad that your son was able to recover from feeling depressed.

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  25. Good thing your eldest has fully recovered already, and that they didn't feel the same with your 3rd baby. That was a tough time for the both of you. I think ganun talaga sa eldest, lalo na if they get so used on being the baby of the family. Thanks for sharing and congratulations on your book! ;)

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    1. Thanks! yeah, my eldest is a very sensitive child and he was the only child for 3 years so it was a big adjustment for him.

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  26. congratulations for this book it will surely help mommies who have the same dilemma.

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  27. This will be helpful in case I will have another child. And I think it is also applicable to my twins. I make sure that they will get enough and equal attention from me.

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  28. Teresa, so sorry to hear your child had to go through that but I'm glad he recovered and your family is all okay now. I'm so excited for this book because I'm currently pregnant with my fourth child. My third one is so far the only boy and has been the baby for the past 5 years. Although he seems to accept he's going to be a kuya soon, he still struggles with the idea sometimes. I'm definitely going to need this book! That's why I'm so happy I was the winner of your virtual launch. Woohoo! :) Thank you so much. :)

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    1. Congratulations on your new baby. Hope all will be well with your older kids when the new baby comes home. :)

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  29. In my experience with kids, they tend to be more insecure than adults. Especially when they're used to getting all the attention and then someonw comes along, it's very hard for them to adjust. Kudos to you for being able to help your kid adjust to your new norm. :)

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    1. I noticed also that those who were the only child for a number of years tend to have more difficulty adjusting to having a younger sibling.

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  30. My kids are just 1 year and 8 months apart. Our eldest didn't have a problem adjusting since she was very active throughout my pregnancy. She also stayed at the hospital with us throughout my stay so she was there to help us care for her brother. Nakakatuwa!

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    1. It's nice when the older sibling/siblings learn to adjust fast to the family's new normal. :)

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  31. This is a very sweet article! As to your question though, I think until now, after 3 years, my child is still adjusting to the point of having a sibling. Sometimes she's obviously way too insecure, to the point that she fights with her little brother, but at other times, I thinks she understands that her brother is her friend, especially when she comes home and little bro gives her a hug... :D

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  32. wow.. I didn't know kids act like that when they have a new sibling.. maybe they just feel left alone when the mother's attention is lessen because of the other child.. great job in solving this problem... Mommies really do know better! Freelancer Philippines

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