Earlier this year, I wrote in ‘Can I call myself an Author?‘ about how I had contributed to a book – ‘Toddlers: An Instruction Manual’ by Joanne Mallon. The book has been a brilliant success raising awareness and funds for Home-Start and helping parents of toddlers with all manner of queries.
I am VERY pleased to share this guest post from the fabulous Joanne about helping toddlers cope with a new arrival…
Being heavily pregnant or with a newborn baby plus a toddler may turn out to be a bigger challenge than you might expect. Your toddler will be full of their usual rambunctious energy, whilst just getting out of bed is a challenge for you.
And the arrival of a new brother or sister, whilst welcome, will also rock your toddler’s world. It would be unusual if they didn’t respond to that change in some way. These are some of the reactions you may see:
· Increased clinginess
· Regression in potty training
· More tantrums
· Fussiness over food
· Night waking
So basically, brace yourself for uber-toddler, with all the tough stuff ramped up to the max. And you may also find that reactions like these start to happen during your pregnancy, as toddlers are very quick to spot that your attention isn’t 100% on them.
Many toddlers also play favourites, and are nice as pie for daddy whilst saving their most furious behavior for their mums. It’s nothing personal, and you haven’t suddenly morphed into the world’s worst mother. It’s just that your child is angry and toddlers never were all that great at disguising their feelings.
Essentially this behaviour is all about asserting your child’s claim on your undivided attention, and reinforcing their genuinely held belief that it really is all about them – which is why, ultimately, one of the best lessons having a sibling teaches a child is that the world does not revolve around them, and that other people’s needs deserve consideration too.
I remember when my son was newborn, feeling slightly helpless that I was pinned to the sofa in pretty much nonstop breastfeeding mode, whilst my daughter roamed around the house getting increasingly feral. All the active things we had done previously like baking and painting had to go by the wayside. Even getting out to the shops with the two of them was an ordeal.
For the parent of a toddler, having a new baby is a time of adjustment too. You may still be thinking of your eldest child as a baby, but now you can see just how much they’ve grown. You may be faced with their absolute fury that you’ve disrupted their world by bringing someone new into it.
Happily this stage doesn’t tend to last long, provided you don’t give in to it and stick to the same loving, consistent parental strength that your child needs. With so much change going on in their world, it would be strange if a toddler didn’t react to the arrival of a new sibling in some way, so challenging as this behaviour may be, it is normal and it will pass. Pretty soon your toddler will forget that there ever was a time before the new baby, and you’ll be on to next stage.
Joanne also has a blog which is amusing and engaging and really worth a visit.