There are hundreds of articles out there on how to introduce your child to the new baby of the family, but what about your teen? Many families are now having kids later on in life, often with a huge gap in between the last “baby” and the new one. It can be difficult to find ways to make this transition an easy one for your child or children who has/have been without a younger sibling for a long time, but there are ways to make it an easy change.
- Get them involved. This one may seem simple, but many teens will hesitate to be involved in the new baby’s life in a hands-on way. By giving your teen responsibilities (or even letting them choose what they’d like to help with), you can be sure that they won’t feel lonely and won’t isolate themselves when that new bundle arrives home from the hospital. Take this one step further by letting them cut the cord!
- Make them feel special. Maybe for the first few weeks, your teen is the only other person allowed to hold the baby (other than you and your partner, of course). Let them be a babysitter (if they want to), but don’t make them feel as though it’s punishment.
- Don’t forget about one-on-one time. With a new, needy infant around, it can be difficult to remember that your teen, who is now old enough to do most things on their own, still needs you just as much as the baby. Be sure to switch off with your partner and have one-on-one time with your teen. Do things they like to do, whether it’s go to the movies or watch a sporting event. Don’t forget to remind them that you love them just as much as the new baby. And remember: Actions often speak louder than words. Find a good balance between the two!
- Encourage independence. Sometimes, your teen just wants to feel as though they have a life of their own that isn’t completely centered on the new baby. By allowing them a little more freedom—while still keeping them safe—they may feel more adult-like and definitely grateful for their new found independence.
Bringing home a new baby is a huge change on everyone’s life, but remember that your teen will be affected by the transition just as much as you will. By following these four tips, you can be sure that you will make the transition less intense for your older child.