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new baby term paper...anybody want to help?

Posted by on Dec. 15, 2008 at 2:51 PM
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Okay, so I was supposed to write a term paper about a "family crisis". Most people chose "teen pregnancy" or "abortion" or something like that, but I chose to do "Introducing a new baby to an only child". I am supposed to include what the crisis is, how it affects the family, and solutions. Anybody good at proofreading and editing? Let me know what you would change if you feel like taking the time, as well as what I should add. I have two and a half hours until it is due. I took out the heading to keep my Professors identity and everything private. It is for a Marriage and Families class. 

 

No Longer “Only”

Helping the first-born child adjust to a second child is something that nearly every family has to deal with. Many people think that since the child is not their first, things will be easier and less hectic. Actually, the family situation gets much more complex.

Adding a new child can often leave the first-born feeling confused. The child naturally feels that his/her parents are there to meet their every need (as it has been since they were born), leaving the child feeling jealous when Mommy and Daddy have to be shared (making him/her no longer the “center of attention“). It takes time and help for a child to adjust to the changes that come with a new family member, so parents must be patient.

All of the confusion and jealousy coming from the older sibling can lead to many problems in the family. These problems can include regressing, becoming (more) demanding, or even becoming disruptive or aggressive due to anger. The best way to deal with regression is to give the child more attention for positive acts. He/she will repeat all acts that gets praised, so only rewarding the behaviors that should be repeated is crucial. The same will work for his/her aggression and disruptive acts. However, if the child is still showing signs of regression, a parent should not worry, because they usually disappear in three to five months. Feeling left out can make a child more demanding, so making special “one-on-one” time with the older child can help.

Preparation

The best time to speak with a first-born child about a new arrival is when the mother starts showing significant signs of being pregnant. Parents should be sure to refer to the unborn baby as “our” baby instead of “Mommy’s” baby. This will help the older child feel closer to the new sibling.

One way to help a child understand what is going on is to read him/her books regarding new babies. Even just showing pictures of the child’s own “babyhood” and telling stories about when he/she was a baby can help with the adjustment. Also, introducing the child to (and even just pointing out) babies when the opportunity presents itself will help, as well as talking about what a new baby can or cannot do. Some parents even give their children (even sons) baby dolls to play with as a way to help them adjust and to teach them how to touch and hold a baby very gently.

Children should be prepared for how they should behave with the new baby. Rather than emphasizing things NOT to do with the “new baby”, parents should show their child ways to have a safe and enjoyable time with the sibling. Some hospitals even offer sibling preparation classes. These classes show young children where their mommy will stay when (and if) she goes to the hospital, what new babies are like, and how to avoid hurting new babies.

As well as offering classes, hospitals often give tours of their facilities. When touring the hospital, parents should take their first-born child along, and point out things such as the nursery, where Mommy may be staying, and even the newborn babies that are at the hospital. Taking the child to prenatal visits and introducing the doctor can help him/her feel more comfortable when the time comes for baby to arrive.

One final way that parents can help their first-born from feeling “left-out” is to let him/her participate in any preparations possible before the arrival of the baby. Some parents let the child help pick out outfits, blankets, and even sometimes the name. Experts often recommend even letting the child pick out a present for the baby, as well as having a present picked out to give the sibling from the “new baby”.

“It’s a Baby!”

After the baby is born, things are going to be hectic for a while. Parents should be sure to spend some time with their first-born child there in the hospital BEFORE they bring in the baby for introductions. Once they do decide to introduce the siblings, using the baby’s name, rather than referring to him/her as “the baby”, will help the older child know that the baby is a person rather than just “the baby”. The child should be shown how to be gentle with the baby when they meet.

Upon arriving home, parents should be consistent with the child’s regular schedule, as well as rules. Managing to keep up with a schedule may be difficult with a new baby, so asking for help from family members may be necessary. The only changes that should be made need to involve the older child helping with the baby. For example, parents can ask the older child to help with diaper changing, feedings, baths, picking out clothes, etc. However, a child should never feel “forced” to help because this could lead to resentment.

As I mentioned before, the older sibling needs one-on-one time with each parent to avoid feeling left-out. Even just 10 minutes of uninterrupted time can be meaningful to a child, and can often help their behavior. One-on-one time should be directed by the child in order to help the older child feel more comfortable and “in-control”.

When visitors come to “oogle” over the new baby, it is important to ask them not to leave out the older child. If gifts are brought for the baby, parents should be sure to have some small presents set aside somewhere to give to the “big brother” or “big sister” in order to keep him/her from feeling left out. Also, a parent should make sure that the older child has special, private space and things of their own that don’t have to be shared with the baby.

Parents should always make sure that the older child knows how important he/she is to his/her brother or sister, as well as how important he/she is to his/her parents. Complimenting good behavior, saying “thank-you” whenever the child helps, and just spending time with the older child helps reassure him/her that you still love and care for him/her deeply.

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by on Dec. 15, 2008 at 2:51 PM
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