Tuesday 10th April was National Siblings Day, and even though its somewhat an Americanised event, its still recognised in the UK. So in the spirit of celebrating this day, I thought I’d share with you our experience of introducing Bob to his little brother Teddy, and the trials and tribulations of cementing bonds between a two year old and a baby.
Whilst pregnant with my second we always spoke to our eldest about his new baby brother coming. He was only fourteen months at the time, two when baby arrived. When my body started to change and there was no getting away from the subject, we talked none stop about his new baby brother. He would tap my tummy gently and rest his head saying “baboo”. We took this as a sure sign he was looking forward to the arrival of his baby brother.
HA! We’re not that foolish, and we weren’t buying the “aww baboo” act, we knew this boy was for serious bartering, so we got our ducks in a row, ready for show time, and he didn’t cease to disappoint.
The ‘Ducks’ consisted of a small present from baby, chocolate buttons, there was no way he could resist them. A small present from him to baby, so he could be involved in the whole giving a gift action. I read through my bible “baby centre” – including your other children in simple exercises when baby arrives promotes the feeling of being valued. I even discharged myself from hospital after day two following a c-section so that I could be home with him.
When we arrived home from the hospital in the early evening, I needed to go straight to bed because I had such bad wind, I needed to lie in the foetal position and just blow!! Sorry guys, bit graphic but I must set the scene. This was my second mistake, the first being, leaving the hospital so early when really, I should of stayed until I was fighting fit ready to face stage one of sibling bonding. So, introductions started on the second day – my third mistake. Bob was not impressed. He took himself into the dining room and set up camp there for a week.
So, we decided maybe small regular little gifts from baby might bring him around, or at least coax him out of the dining room, Nothing too lavish of course, we didn’t want him to get too used to the appeasing gifts, I’d already failed stage one, didn’t want yet another rod for my own back.
After a week he was out of the dining room and back in the living room with us all. So, then I got to work. Every time I did something I asked Bob to help, even if it was to pass something, or hold something, if it involved caring for baby, I asked Bob. Child labour was alive and well in my house, at least for a few weeks – and he enjoyed it!
Which was a good sign, I was finally starting to do something right. By week three he was giving baby kisses on his forehead. Now at this point some of you would think, TRIUMPH, you’ve cracked it! But our guy is good, he can easily lead you into a false sense of security and like a flip of a switch, be back to camping out in the dining room. That was my fourth mistake.
Even though I had an inkling that it would be hard on Bob at first, not always having my undivided attention, I wasn’t really prepared for his reaction. It wasn’t until I was approached with my first question of “how’s Bob adapting” that I sat and thought about the whole situation. It must have been tough for our little guy to handle such a huge change in his home environment and indeed life. Not being one to handle change well myself – I began to relax a little, and stopped pushing the text book theories, and allowed him to act out a little, so he could air his frustrations.
Funnily enough, it was only then that we started to see a real change in his behaviour. It seemed as though he’d started to settle and accept the change better. You could argue it’s because he’s had time to adapt to the change – but I think there was a little more to it than that. I’m no behavioural scientist, but I strongly believe your kids will always let you know what they need, and for Bob it was time, patience and reasurance.
Now, this isn’t the end of my story on sibling bonding by any stretch of the imagination. We as a family all still work hard to include and share to promote sibling bonds, and we will no doubt continue to do this until they’re adults or until I’m dead – grim finish, apologies!
Joking a side, our little boy has taught us a very valuable lesson, and that is to not take sibling relationships for granted. Like all relationships, there’s still an element of work needed, and for me that’s what National Sibling Day is all about – to remind us its time to (re) connect with your brother or sister.