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How Can I Help My Son Feel Better About Being a Big Brother?

We just told our 5-year-old son he's about to become a big brother — and he's really not happy about it. He's used to being the center of attention, and I know that he’s not going to like sharing the spotlight with the new baby. What can we do?
Andrea

Lots of kids aren't happy when they hear there's going to be a new baby in the family. Point out to your son all the advantages and responsibilities that come along with being the big brother. Remind him that unlike really little kids who can't help at all, kids his age can really be involved in helping Mom and Dad get ready for the new baby, and can do lots of things that babies can't.

Try to get your son to discuss his concerns so you can help him deal with them. See what questions he has. And give him healthy ways to get his feelings out — like drawing a picture or throwing a ball outside.

If you sense that he's worried he might not get as much attention from you once the baby comes, talk to him about his fears. Then offer some suggestions that will make him feel better — such as setting aside some special time every day when he gets you all to himself. Even 10 minutes of time as the main focus of your attention can make a big difference for your older child.

Many books are available to read with your child to help him become more comfortable with the changes that are occurring in your family — look in the bookstore or library for one to take home.

Reviewed by: Larissa Hirsch, MD
Date reviewed: February 2010

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