So you’re expecting again and probably can’t wait to tell your little one the great news!
While adult family members will react ecstatically, with children, you can’t be so sure how a child will take the news. How they react will depend very much on their age and temperament.
Here are a few things to consider:
As a rule of thumb, the younger the child, the longer you should wait. Children under 5 years old are all about instant gratification and they still don’t understand the concept of time. Telling him that he’ll have a sibling in 8 months’ time will go way over his little head.
Waiting until you are in your second semester (at least) is a good bet here. Not only will you know all is well with your pregnancy, but also because you’ll start to show, which will make it much easier to explain this abstract concept of a baby in your belly.
Explain that your body is helping a baby grow, which takes time and that you’re working very hard at it (especially if you are suffering from morning sickness).
Keep it simple
While I’m all for straight up talk (there are no pee-pees in our house! It’s a penis and a vagina – sometimes pronounced “fudge-ina” by the 5 year old), explaining the ins-and-outs of fertilization might be difficult for your little one to grasp. Heck, it’s a tough concept for grown ups to grasp!
Say something like: “Did you know there’s a tiny baby in mommy’s belly? The baby will grow in here for a while, but when it’s ready to come out, he or she will come live with us!”
Enlist their help
Once the kitten is out of the bag, many parents find it very helpful to involve the older child as much as possible.
Depending on their age, they can be such great little helpers. From help choosing the room color, room décor, possible names, outfits, toys, the options are endless. Involving them will ensure they feel you are all in this together and will reduce any anxiety they might feel.
Focus on the positive
The arrival of a baby is always tough for a sibling, especially the first child. They had mom and dad all to themselves and all of a sudden, this little wrinkly worm is taking up most of mom’s attention and some of dad’s too. Make sure you focus on the positive things a baby will bring to their life: a new buddy to play with, they get to be the big brother / sister, new toys in the house, etc.…
Make it tangible
A baby in the belly will be a tough concept for your little one to understand right away. Make it more tangible by showing ultrasound pictures, letting them feel the baby kick and associating the due date with a time of the year they can grasp: “The baby will come in the winter, when it’s cold outside” or “The baby will come right before your birthday, when you get presents and cake.”.
However you present the good news to your child, be sure to do it with warm affection, and get down to their level. Sit down or kneel next to them and be excited. If you are nervous about telling your child, they will feel your nervousness and they might think your news is negative. Relax, smile, and make sure your child knows that a new sibling will make your family even better than it is now.