Welcoming a New Sibling

 

 

Come one, come all to episode 106 of Voices of Your Village! We’ve got a great episode this week, babe. It is chock-full of hot tips and reassurance about welcoming a new sibling into your family. Today I chatted with Bryana Kappa, a licensed marriage and family therapist and early childhood mental health specialist, with a private practice in Redondo Beach who works exclusively with new moms, infants, and toddlers doing attachment-based play therapy. Bryana is dedicated to building a village of mindful, conscious, women, and mothers trying to raise whole, healthy children.

 

“My goal is to create parents who can be therapists for their children while helping them heal from their own past experiences.”

 

So, it will come to no shock to you that I thought she was the perfect person to help me answer all of your questions about the process of adding another kid to your growing family.

The most asked question of the week was a doozy, let’s dive in! You all wondered, when you are planning to expand your family, how do you do it when the thought of splitting your time and affection between two kids makes you feel guilty?

 

“You love your first child so much, but when you have your second child it’s like you grow another heart.”

 

Bryana was quick with a reassuring answer, “That’s a really common experience, feeling that we now have to share our time and love and attention. Especially when we have one baby and hoping to add another, there’s a real feeling that there is no way I could ever love another person as much as I love this baby.” The idea of raising a new child brings a lot of stress because you get into the flow of having one child, and after you get through that first year you start cruising and it feels easy. Then the idea of raising a second child feels like you’ll be putting a wedge in that relaxed feeling. 

 

“It’s not babying our children as much as it is meeting their need.”

 

Then it was time to chat about the logistics of introducing a sibling to this new child, how do you introduce such a big routine change into the life of a toddler or preschooler?

Bryana shared her insights on this as well: “The reality of it is that you won’t have as much time to dedicate to the older child. It starts to happen at the tail end of pregnancy. You’re too big and can't bend over to give them a bath, you’re so exhausted that you can barely make it to bedtime. That feeling of not being able to give your full self to your child revs up through your pregnancy and into the first year. Where we can make a mental shift and help ourselves out is remembering that all of these things come to pass. Eventually we do find a rhythm that works well for us and our child naturally sees that their role has shifted. They are learning alongside us how to integrate into being a grown family.

I reflected on the time I interviewed my own mom for this podcast (Episode 67, check it out!!) and when I asked her about what it was like for her to transition from being the mother of one to the mother of two, and so on until she became the mother of five children. She had told me that it wasn’t a massive ideal shift, but more of no longer viewing your child as an “only child” but now her “older child.” Bryana agrees that as being a big sister herself she can reflect personality on how special and wonderful it is to have siblings. 

 

“When we teach and model that gain of responsibility, we raise collaborative kiddos who want to be supportive of each other and the family as a whole.”

 

Bryana paused to recommend the book, Siblings Without Rivalry by Adele Faber. She explained that the book talks about parents guiding and then getting out of the way. Children are going to fight with their siblings, these fights are a microcosm for what the real world is like. Children should learn through their sibling relationships how to be assertive, while also learning how to let others win. These are important social skills that, when you have multiple children in a family, can be discovered in the home.

 

One of the biggest causes of sibling rivalry is parents hopping in and separating them during conflict.

 

Bryana goes on to lay out a few things parents can do to foster healthy sibling relationships: Be mindful when it comes to comparing your kiddos, bite your tongue before the comparisons can start, and encourage your children to solve their own problems. 

 

“If we can allow problem-solving process to happen and get out of the way, we are going to encourage a collaborative atmosphere instead of a competitive environment.”

 

Listen to the full episode to hear us answer your question on introducing a new sibling to your family! You can connect with Bryana at @southbaymommyandme or sign up for her newsletter for more mindful, conscious, curious, and reflective parenting resources.

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