Whether it is a new baby sibling on the way or if there is about to be a blending of families bringing about opportunities for a new step sibling, here are some helpful strategies to help your preschooler adjust to the big change.
Ask for your child’s help/involve your child in any preparations beforehand and seek out their help after-the-fact. Give your child opportunities to help make decisions so that they feel they can be a helpful part of this big change. Perhaps your child can make artwork for the new baby’s room. Maybe your child can help choose new plastic colored cups to share with the new step-siblings.
Praise your child in very specific ways when your child is a willing helper. Let your child know their help is vital and that you would not have been so prepared without their help!
Give appropriate opportunities for role play. What should your child do when mom is feeding the baby and cannot play? What could your child do if another (new) child in the house grabs his favorite toy?
Take your preschooler on a date and allow the opportunity to answer any questions or to explain the process that is about to take place.
Find an appropriate book that could help with the adjustment. For a new baby, The Baby is Here (from Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood), by Angela C. Santomero, shows how Daniel had to get ready for his new baby sister. For a new step-sibling, Step One, Step Two, Step Three and Four, by Maria Ashworth, tells about a daughter who has to learn to transition to her mom’s remarriage and gain step-siblings in the process. The recommended age range is 4-9.
It is a big adjustment to welcome anyone new to the household. Working together and being as proactive as possible to alleviate any concerns will go a long way!
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