For some children, competition between siblings begins immediately after the new baby’s arrival in your family. Chances for sibling rivalry are greatest if your older child is between one and three years of age.
On your infant’s baptism day, a toddler’s feelings of rivalry might be particularly intense because of all the attention focused on the little newcomer. A day of celebration over your baby might well mean a day of pure, condensed jealousy for your older child. To avoid or lessen feelings of jealousy in your older child, try these ideas:
- Before baby’s baptism day, make time with your older child to talk about what’s going to happen and why.
- Discuss with your toddler the progression of special ceremonies he will participate in over the course of his lifetime: when he was a baby, he participated in a blessing, baptism, or naming ceremony. When he’s older, he might take his first communion. As an adult, he might fall in love and be married. Ceremonies such as this mark important points of life development. They help us recognize and recall the things of greatest importance in our lives.
- Show your toddler mementos or photos from his christening day. Explain that you celebrated his entrance into your family just as much as you will celebrate his new brother’s life.
- Read age-appropriate books on sibling rivalry with your toddler. Discuss what’s happening in the book and how it might relate to your family. These discussions can help your toddler better understand and deal appropriately with feelings he might have.
- Encourage your toddler to help choose a special accessory for the baby to wear on her christening day.
- Think about purchasing a special present for your toddler. If she will receive her first communion in the next year or two, for example, you might consider presenting her with a first-communion article of clothing or accessory.
- Have your older child help dress the baby on his baptism day. Make sure she knows how much you value her help.
- Explain the important role an older brother or sister plays in the life of a new sibling. Your son should understand that being a big brother is a critical job. Discuss examples of what a big brother can mean to his siblings. To assist him in his big-brother duties, you might want to give big brother a present that will help him excel in his role.
- If you predict family and friends will focus their attention on your infant, effectively sidelining your older child, be sure to give them a heads-up before the christening day arrives. Ask at least a few visiting adults to make a special effort to help big brother or sister feel precious and loved.
You and your family will want to remember your baby’s christening day with fondness forever. By putting in a little planning and forethought, you can help ensure that everyone in your family considers the day full of wonderful memories and joy.