How to tell an only child they’re about to have a younger sibling

Haj asks: How should parents deal with the first child, when the mother is about to have a second child? How she should prepare and give time to the first one, to make sure they don’t get emotionally disturbed?

Hi Haj –


What a great question!


You are absolutely right to want to prepare your child for having a younger sibling.  For many kids, this is the biggest event of their lives, and the most difficult.


It’s easy to understand why.  Since they were born, that child has been the center of your universe, and felt it!  No matter what scary or upsetting things came at them in their life, they knew one really important fact: I am the person my parents love more than anything else in the world!


And now, suddenly… oops!  What’s about to happen?  Their whole world is about to crumble!  Their parents have chosen, chosen!, to bring another kid into this home, to split their attention between us instead of giving it all to me, to love that other kid as much as me, or maybe more!


So you are so right to want to help that kid through this process!


First, I think it’s good to tell the child as soon as you’re sure, so they have as much time as possible to get their head around this new idea.


Second, while you don’t want to ignore their feelings, you do want to point out all the fun that will happen when the new kid shows up.  They’ll have a new playmate, they won’t be so lonely at home, they’ll have someone else who understands their world in a way no one else can.


And third, there’s a really good chance they won’t have the words yet to express their feelings about what’s happening.  So help them out.  Talk to them about how they’ll always be so special to you, and how you’ll have special times with them that don’t include the new kid, just like now.  About how you’ll always be there for them, just like now.  And about how you’ll always love them just as much as you do today.  (And that they’ll get just as many presents on special occasions as today – believe me, they’ll be worrying about that one!).


The best thing, Haj, is that you’re already thinking about it.  That shows that you’re going to be considerate of this kid’s feelings.  That fact alone will be the most important factor keeping your child happy through the life change that’s coming.


Cheers, and congratulations!




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