It seems like a lot of my friends are having their second child right now and a hot topic among us has been "How do you help child #1 adjust to the new baby?" In fact, Evelyn, over at Momsicle, has had two posts that include tips from her friends. We gave S a baby doll a while ago to help prepare him and we had all the baby stuff out a couple weeks before Mr. T arrived so that he got used to it, but really, nothing could have prepared him for his new little brother.
Overall I guess we are lucky because Superman doesn't pay much attention to Mr. T. However, when he does seem interested, S gives him hugs and kisses, tries to feeding him his snacks, lays any stray blanket over his little body, and loves trying to stuff the pacifier into Mr. T's mouth.
The difficulty has come with sharing me. If he and I are playing, he sometimes swats other people away when they come to join us. We have been trying to handle this by being firm, consistent, but loving. He is trying to show us that he is feeling insecure and as his parents, we need to hear him even if we don't like the way he is telling us. We have done time-outs, but only when he continued the behavior after we scolded him (Typically that sounds like, "No hitting, ouch, hitting hurts. Sam wants just Mommy right now, but Daddy wants to play too. Let's let Daddy play too.")
We have had a few meltdowns that have taught us about Superman's needs, including one dinner that was a pure disaster. I will admit that during these meltdowns I have gotten really frustrated too, wishing things could.just.be.easy. But I have learned (maybe that shouldn't be past tense...) that I need to take a deep breath (or ten) and try and see things from S's perspective. While I am working on being patient, I am also taking notes on what S needs from us.
His behavior has told us...
- He needs to have time that is just him and I.
- He needs to know when things are going to change (ex. I need to stop playing and feeding Mr. T) and be given some warning ahead of time.
- He needs his schedule to be consistent and predictable.
- He needs extra hugs.
- He needs time with both my husband and I. It seems to be less about getting undivided attention from us because he is okay if Mr. T is also involved. I think it is more about him feeling comforted by having his family all together.
The one area that seems to be the most difficult is supporting him with adjusting to a change in activities. My psychiatrist (and then several friends) mentioned having a box of toys just for when I am nursing Mr. T. That made me think that I could use the box to help transition from one activity to another, but still wanted to be able to give him some sort of visual heads up when possible. So I have gotten him a toddler timer that has the red, yellow, and green lights. I haven't used it yet...mostly because I have to figure out how to work it first, but I will be sure to report back and let you know if it is successful.
We are still finding our way as the parents of two boys, but I think we have a good start. I am sure there will be more bumps in the road and I will let you know what they are and how we deal with them along the way.