Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Big Brother

People often ask how Will is doing in the transition to being a big brother. For the most part, I think he's done very well. We've had some moments here and there, but he is mostly loving and gentle with his little sister, and though I wouldn't ever leave them alone in the same room together, I do not truly fear that he would hurt her on purpose. What would concern me more is that he would try to "help" her in some way and accidentally cause her harm. He just hasn't shown any sort of overt jealousy or anger toward her. When he has acted out, it is usually directed at me.

How did we prepare him? We started talking about the baby with him and named her very early on - basically right after the anatomy scan,. We took him to every single doctor's appointment so that he could hear the "heart beep." We had about ten different "I'm a Big Brother" type books that he called "Emma Books." We didn't try to force the books on him, but when he chose books at night, he almost always picked an "Emma Book." We took him to the store about a week before Emma was born and had him pick a toy for his sister and also had Emma "buy" a toy for Will. We introduced them at the hospital on "neutral ground" and had him bring her home with us as a family.

Once Emma arrived, we made sure that Will still felt special. Obviously, our attention was now divided, but we did our best to make sure that he still got one-on-one time with both of us. I took him for walks, M took him to the park, etc. During times that I absolutely must have my focus on Emma, I try to include him. When I am nursing, we often read stories together or I let him have a special snack We also introduced t.v. to Will about the same time Emma was born. This was very handy because I could remind him that only big brothers get to watch t.v. and he is still very excited about this new treat, so it definitely has been a sanity saver on some days.

Most people that I knew that had already made the Leap to two found that the first two weeks were the hardest in terms of the older sibling adjusting, and I definitely found that to be the case. I felt as if it was almost magical, but at the 2 week point, he stopped having as many tantrums and fighting bedtime (which had been the two things that I noticed that happened right after we brought Emma home).

Probably the most effective tool I had for dealing with those early tantrums was The Big Box of Gifts. I had bought little toys and treats whenever I saw things on sale or at garage sales over the summer before Emma was born. I am not talking big ticket items. I bought things like a box of Cheerios, Matchbox cars, bubbles, a little flashlight, and fruit snacks. I wrapped the gifts in old newspaper and leftover bits of wrapping paper and put them in a big box. My mom brought more little gifts with her when they came to visit and added hers to my collection. Then, whenever we were having a "moment," I would remind Will about the Big Box of Gifts and that helpful big brothers got to pick a gift. I also remembered to commend him when we were having a good moment (like when he spontaneously kissed Emma or helped us feed her a bottle) and let him pick a gift. The Big Box of Gifts was especially helpful when M went back to work. If I could tell it was going to be a rough day, I would tell him that if he was good and helpful all day, he could pick a gift when Daddy got home. He never got to the point where he expected a gift, so it wasn't a problem to do this. We even have a few wrapped gifts left, so I can give him a surpise from the Big Box of Gifts when he has been especially good.

Overall, it has been an easy transition. And when he calls her "My Emma" or says, "I hold her, please" it makes the moments that aren't so easy worth it.


It is what it is said...

This is a great and informative post. I love the Big Box of Gifts (and used a similar idea when potty training).

Moreover, when I find myself constantly questioning if I can manage two and then I see these loving and proud pictures of a big brother with his little baby sister, I just KNOW it is what is meant to be for us.

HereWeGoAJen said...

Genius ideas!

Those pictures are fabulous. Will is so cute with her.

Searching said...

Those photos are so sweet!! What a blessing!

Annalien said...

You have two really gorgeous kids! Love the photos, especially the first.

Just a little pre-warning (and I am not trying to bring you down, just prepare you), be prepared for another rather big adjusment period when Emma is around 6 months. I have seen it many a time with my own and other's children.

Ms. J said...

So pleased to hear the transition is going well!

I have to echo someone else's comments . . . at around 5 months, the sh*t hit the fan in my house, and Lil Pumpkin started having all sorts of "issues" - she didn't take them out on Peanut, but she sure as hell has on us! I am also getting requests like "put her down please" or "I want to sit in your lap" when I am feeding Peanut. I am continually trying to help LP see the connectin bewteen us mazimizing our time together one-on-one when Peanut is asleep . . . it's starting to make sense to her, but she needs to be reminded continually.

I'd advise getting down on the floor as much as possible with one on each side, so you are playing with both, though separately. It's also a continual game of reminders to get the older one to understand "This is too small for your little sister, so we must keep it out of her reach," while also trying to emphasize sharing of other toys.

Add in trying to keep LP from manhandling Peanut's toys when she has a runny nose and OI FREAKIN' VEY, lol.

Amy said...

Yo! I just printed this out for a coworker who has a boy Will's age and another on the way! She loved it! You're the bomb dude!

Manapan said...

They are so precious together!