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Do You Have A Favourite Child?

Most parents will say that they love all their children equally and that is probably true, but do you like all your children equally? Few of us will admit to having a favourite child, yet, children, even within the same family, are so different that it’s hard not to have personal preferences. Some children are better match for our own personalities than others. Some are harder to parent and we can get so exhausted that we unintentionally seek more interaction with the ‘easier’ children. You may even notice that your preferences change and you have a different favourite child at different times.

RELATED: How To Deal With Sibling Rivalry

While it’s perfectly normal to have a favourite child, openly showing it can lead to problems in the family dynamics and affect the children’s self-esteem. Here are some things you can do to make sure you’re favouring all your children and no one feels left out.

Equal attention

Obviously, the attention you give is never going to be equal to the minute, but do your best to ensure that all your children spend some one-on-one time with you and have their own special activities on the family calendar. Sometimes one child will demand more attention than others purely because of the stage of their development, for example, a 2-year-old is not as independent as an 8-year-old and will need more help with everything. In that case, you can explain to your other children why that child is getting more attention and point out other times when the scales were tipped the other way.

Consistent rules

Have the same discipline rules for all children. Again, this can be hard when the children are at different levels of understanding. While you may not be able to get a 2-year-old to follow along, you can talk about your expectations and gently correct your toddler to let your other children see that the same rules apply to everyone.

Notice the good things

Take time to notice what is happening in each of your children’s lives. Comment when they’re putting a lot of effort into something and celebrate each child’s successes equally, even if some successes may look a lot bigger to you than others.

Don’t compare

Each child is an individual with unique traits and they don’t have to be like anyone else. Treat each child as if you’ve started the whole parenting gig from scratch – it doesn’t matter what their siblings were doing at their age and how their abilities compare.

Whether we have a favourite child or not. all children have the need to be loved for who they are and it’s our job as parents to give them exactly that.

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Introducing Your New Baby To Siblings

No matter how well you’ve prepared your older kids for the arrival of your new baby, you’re probably still nervous about the actual event. How are your older kids going to react? Will they like the baby? Will they know you still love them? If you’re wondering how to make this first encounter run smoothly, here are some things you can try.

RELATED: How To Explain Childbirth To Young Chidren

Prepare gifts

Encourage your children make some gifts for the baby before the birth. It will help them feel grown up and important, and ready for their new role as a big brother or sister. My children made a bead necklace for their new baby sister – not the most appropriate item for a new baby, but it was very cute and I still have it in my box where I keep precious memories. You can also prepare a gift from the baby to her older siblings.

Be available to greet your older children

Whether your children are coming to visit you at the hospital or you’re returning home with your new bundle, have your hands free to give cuddles and reassurance. Ask the person who’s bringing them to the hospital give you a call before they get there or have someone else carry the baby when you arrive home.

Get your older children involved

Let them hold the baby and bring you items you might need. Take lots of pictures with them and your new baby, but be careful that you have some pictures of just you and your newborn, too, or the baby might get upset once she grows up. We had to look through my daughter’s baby photos for a school project recently and she wanted a photo of the two of us together. No luck, she was either by herself in the picture or her older brother was always there!

Be prepared that your older children may get jealous and act out in the beginning, but they will soon come to accept and love their new baby brother or sister.

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Introducing Your New Baby To Their Siblings

The arrival of a new baby can be one of the most exciting times in our lives, but for their siblings it can also be a time of uncertainty, jealousy and frustration.  The realisation that they won’t have your undivided attention anymore can be a hard concept to grasp for some children, especially if they are an only child and haven’t had to compete for attention in the past. So here are some tips to help make the transition a bit smoother.

Before the baby is born…

Organise sleeping arrangements prior to the birth

If your toddler is being moved to a bed so the new baby can sleep in the cot, make the transition as far in advance as possible so your toddler doesn’t feel as though they have been pushed out of their bed for the new baby.  It gives them time to adjust to the new sleeping arrangements before you also throw a new baby into the mix.

Take your children along to your appointments

Taking your children to see the baby on the ultrasound or hear their heartbeat can help your children to feel more included in the whole pregnancy experience.   You can try telling a child for hours about a new baby coming into your lives but until they actually see it for themselves on the scan it may not actually make sense to them.

Read books about new babies to your children

Books are a great way of explaining confusing situations to young children with simple words and pictures.  There are numerous children’s books which cover the topic of a new baby that can help your children to understand the situation a bit better.

Consider a new sibling class

A new sibling class can be a great way for your children to learn about the new baby that is soon to arrive and the impact it’s going to have on the family.   A lot of hospitals offer the class which teaches the children how to hold and care for a new baby as well as how to be a great big brother or sister.

Once the baby has arrived…

Offer gifts from the new baby

Arrange some small gifts from the new baby that can be given to your children.  Presents are generally well received by little ones so if you explain that the present is from the new baby it may help to ease the feelings of jealousy.  Your toddler might even like to buy something in return for the new baby.  Let them choose the gift and get them to wrap it up themselves.

Be prepared for tantrums

Once your new baby has arrived be prepared for your toddler to throw more tantrums than usual.  Having a newborn means you won’t be able to devote all of your time to the other children so it’s common for them to become frustrated.  You may also find that they are more demanding and they are clingier than usual.  These are all natural reactions to a new baby but they should slowly subside as your toddler adjusts to the new arrival.

Designate tasks to your children

Appointing your children to be in charge of certain things such as handing out the wipes at nappy change times, or choosing the baby’s clothes when it’s time to get changed makes them feel important and helps to ease the feelings of being left out.

But most of all, be patient.  A new arrival in the household can shake things up immensely and the time it takes to adjust to the changes is different for everyone. Good luck!

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By Karyn Miller

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