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Welcome to Effective Parenting.co.za - Understanding your baby in the first year - Bringing home a sibling - DISCIPLINE: Do behaviours - DISCIPLINE: Don't behaviours - TV, toy guns and sex education - Making up an essential CD Series for ALL parents - ORDER TODAY!!! - ONLY R80.00 per CD...

Adhd or just naughty
Good kids - bad behaviour
Bringing home a sibling
Children and change
Children and play - your baby
Children and TV - How much is too much?
Children and TV - How much is too much? (Winter)
Effects of PND on kids benefits
New baby... are you psychologically prepared
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Having a baby has an emotional impact on the whole family, regardless of whether this is your first or your fifth. A new baby changes the family dynamics. Everybody has to find a new place in the family. This change can cause a significant amount of distress for parents and children alike. Siblings often feel displaced by the new baby and can become attention seeking and defiant. Parents too feel overwhelmed by the demands of the new family, having to divide their time, resources and energy into meeting more demands. Here are some thoughts and ideas to assist with the transition in the first few weeks and months.

In every change there are losses and gains. This is true for you and for your baby. Before your baby was born, he was fed and held and warm and well in your womb. You provided for all his needs before he even knew he had them. Now that he has been born, he has to communicate all of this to you. He has to tell you when he is hungry, tired, sick, cold, etc. So, for your baby the birth experience brings gains and losses. There are gains and losses for you too. There is a tremendous gain in giving birth, where you can hear your baby breathe and count his fingers and toes. But with the gain of the birth of your new baby, you might loose sleep, independence, spontaneity, adult company, intellectual stimulation, maybe financial security, predictability and control. This is true for siblings too. With the birth of a new baby, siblings experience gains and losses. There is a gain in having a playmate and someone to grow up with for life. But there is a loss too since now resources have to be shared. This includes mother’s time, dad’s attention, toys, maybe a room and even financial resources. How you, as parents, negotiate these gains and losses will determine how you and your children deal with the transition. This means that there has to be a balance between the two. If you are loosing sleep at night, you need to re-gain a bit of it during the day. If your older child experiences the new baby as a gain because you are home from work and he is included in the business of the daily activities around the baby, then the transition will be easier for him to digest. If he experiences only the losses when the new baby arrives because he is excluded from the experience, then the transition will be difficult for him and his behaviour might be difficult for you too.

Here are some tips to help siblings cope with the change and the challenge:

1. Acknowledge your child’s ambivalent feelings about the new baby. Many children love and hate the new baby at the same time Allow him to feel angry, sad and happy about the change. These are normal feelings. Children are allowed to express their feelings, positive or negative. They are allowed to feel angry or sad at the birth of the new baby but they are not allowed to hurt you, the baby or themselves. My experience shows that when you allow children the opportunity to express their real feelings, even if they are negative, they are freed up to begin exploring their positive feelings. Allow a space for their feelings to be heard and to be respected. But set limits for their inappropriate behaviors.

2. Some children feel insecure when there is a change in family dynamics and they become oppositional and defiant. They need to know where the boundaries lie in order to feel emotionally safe again. Set limits in a firm and clear manner without being punitive.

3. Avoid negative attention. When you shout at your toddler to stop hurting the new baby, you reinforce his inappropriate behaviour. He learns what to do in order to get attention – and negative attention is better than no attention at all. Try to ignore inappropriate behaviour and give lots of positive attention to behaviors you want to encourage.

4. Allow regression. In preschool children sad and angry feelings are often expressed through action rather than words. You might notice temper tantrums, aggression, bed-wetting, baby talk, acting like a baby, clingy behaviour, and a general irritable mood. Your child regresses and becomes more needy and more dependent. He is communicating an important message: do I have to be a baby in order to get the same level of care and attention? Many parents, knowingly or unknowingly, have expectations on older children to be older. This causes distress for you child because he might feel ambivalent about the losses and gains of growing up. Allow him to regress. My experience shows that those parents who play along with their child and “baby” him for a little while have a greater chance of encouraging autonomy and independence than those parents who impose it.

5. Give up the expectation to be fully available for all your children all the time. Your aim is to be a “good enough” parent (Dr Winnicott) not a perfect one. Just like there are no perfect children, so there are no perfect parents. It is appropriate for your children to learn that there are limits to your resources, your patience, your time and your attention.

6. Show your children that you love them very much.
Children don’t always trust a verbal message. It might not be enough to tell your son you love him very much. You might have to hug him, read to him, and spend some special time with him or whatever you do to show him how much he means to you.

7. Limit the amount of change your older child is exposed to.
Starting a new school, moving to a new room and bringing home a new baby are too much for a toddler to manage.

8. Involve your older child in the day-to-day activities of the new baby. Let him choose which nappy to use even if all the nappies are the same. This helps to balance the gains and losses. Your child might have lost his place as only child, or second child, but gained in his place as older child. Now he is more capable, more competent and more independent. He has been shifted up the ladder and this is a gain to help deal with the losses. The shift has the capacity to build his self-esteem. But if you have high expectations of him to be responsible around the baby, then being “bigger” will be a loss rather than a gain!

9. Allow your older child to touch the baby at their first meeting. Children are tactile human beings and this helps to create a positive first experience. Babies have an automatic grasping reflex. Ask your older child to put his finger in the babies’ hand and the baby will grasp it. This creates a special moment for children, parents and babies alike.

Just like there are gains and losses for siblings, so there are for dads too. Lets take a closer look at your role in the first few weeks and months and how you can assist with the transition.

1. Your role is to support your partner so that she can support the new baby! Think of this as a tripod: dad, mom and baby. It can only stand on three legs. Your role is critical. Your role is to nurture your spouse by taking care of her and not making too many demands on her. This means taking care of the “outside world” in order to allow her to focus on the “internal world” of building a new relationship with the baby in the family. Providing for her financially, allowing her to rest, helping with some of the practical arrangements of the other kids helps her to do this. Mothers and babies are a unit in the first four months of life and it is important for you to protect that. So, remember, she can’t look after you right now. She needs you to look after her.

2. She needs your help and your support in her handling of the baby. She doesn’t have all the answers and she is not a perfect mother. There are no perfect parents, or children. Our goal is to be “good enough”, not perfect. Support her whichever way she feeds the baby, changes the baby, baths the baby, etc.

3. She’s falling in love with the baby. She is not falling out of love with you. . In this triangle of mother, father and baby, you might end up feeling on the lonely end of the triangle in the early months of babies’ life. This is appropriate and normal. It does not last forever. Mothers and babies need this space to connect and to bond. When babies have secured a good attachment, they are free to build a relationship with you and eventually to others outside of the family unit. But you could get involved too!

4. Studies show that fathers are getting more involved. Gone are the days where dads brought home the bacon and moms fried it up for dinner. You might not be able to breastfeed but you could bath the baby. It’s a nice opportunity for mom to have a rest and it gives you time to bond with your baby. In the first few weeks of babies’ life the physical is the psychological. When you bath the baby, change his nappy, hold him, you are building an attachment to him.

5. When you are at work, so is she! Respect her work in raising another member of your family and another member of society.

6. Talk, Talk and Talk. Make time to talk to your partner. Your relationship will take a back seat at this time. This is normal. But make time to look after your relationship. A bunch of flowers, a telephone call, a special note can make all the difference in a long day of feeding, winding, holding and cleaning. Parenting can be a source of much conflict for couples. Open up the channels of communication early on in order to talk through issues.

7. Learn about babies! Information makes the world of babies more understandable and this helps you to feel less helpless and more empowered as a parent.

The fifth disc in the Raising Children Effectively series has just been released. If you order the remaining CD's from us now we will send you a copy of Sheryl's NEW RELEASE TV, toy guns and sex education at no charge. Total cost including package is R320,00 (R80,00 each). Contact us at sheks@icon.co.za or sms your telephone number to 082 883 0536 and we will contact you.
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