There are currently three of us in our family: my daughter, my husband and I. We

Copyright Rachel Lam

are expecting a new member in about six months. It’s a very exciting time for all of us, but of course, there are uncertainties as to how well our daughter will respond to the arrival of a sibling after 14 years of being the only child.

There are numerous books and online articles advising parents on how to prep their child/children for the arrival of a new sibling, but most of them target parents with small children, not with teens. Thankfully, I have some personal experience in this department, and both my husband and I also talked about how we can help our daughter maintain a level of inner-security, because soon she will have to share our attention with another, and at the same time, deal with school work, growing AND help out around the family. Indeed, the arrival of a newborn is not only life-changing for my husband and I, the change is equally dramatic for our daughter!

For any parents out there facing the same challenge, I believe it is critical to remember how we handle an older child’s insecurity and inevitable jealousy will affect how well s/he will treat the newer sibling(s). Not only that, the mis-handling of such situations can cause resentment as well as a feeling of animosity toward the newer sibling(s) for years to come. All parents hope their children will get along, and there are a lot of up-front work we can do to help our children love one another.

Below are just some of the things we are doing to prep our teenage daughter for her first sibling:

  • As soon as we decided to try for a second one, we told our daughter of this decision so there will not be any surprises.
  • I let my daughter be the first to know when I became pregnant. I wanted her to feel special by sharing important information with her!
  • We let her choose the name if she will have a sister.
  • My husband and I often talk to our daughter about her childhood and all the things we did for or with her. She hears about how much she was loved, and it helps keep her insecurity at bay.
  • When we began to set up the baby room, my husband also gave her a choice to move her bedroom furnitures around. This way she wouldn’t feel left out of all the actions!
  • We take opportunities to explain that we will do many things for the little one in the next several years, such as buying new toys and letting him/her try out new hobbies, just like we did for her.
  • I constantly remind her to let me know if she ever feels insecure or jealous about any situation, and that I will not get mad or feel she is being petty.

There are still many things we need to do to prep her for the arrival of another little one, who, no doubt, will consume the better part of waking (and slumbering) hours for at least several months, and I can just imagine our daughter feeling frustrated over the kind of attention bestowed on the little one, not just from us, but relatives and friends from all over. As much as it’s important for us to continue to show her love, we should not expect her to show the same love toward the new sibling. She will be jealous, and she can even feel envious at times, but it’s our job as parents to guide through these difficult feelings. After all, she is only 14.

From my own experience, the keys are acknowledgement and communications. As long as we acknowledge her feelings and give her the opportunity to talk them out, she will know that we know how she feels. We might not always like her reactions or have time to help her “cope” right away, listening to her is always better than neglecting her or making her feel guilty about the way she feels, which will only fuel her resentment.

Do you have any tips or personal experience you would like to share on coping with sibling jealousy?

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