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Episode 201 – A New Baby Joins the Family

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Month: January, 2015

Change fills the air for everyone.

A lot of things change when you bring a new baby home. Whether a baby is born or adopted into a family, there are many changes and many different feelings when the new child arrives. Everyone is going to need some time to adjust. You may get less sleep; have more to do, and when you are tired, it might be harder to be patient and kind with your older children. It is not unusual for the children who are already there to feel some resentment. They may even be angry with their parents and say things like, “Take the baby back!” At any age, it’s hard to share the people we love.

Parents from time to time say, “Oh, there’s no jealousy. My child loves the baby.” Sometimes children are afraid that their parents might stop loving them if they show any “negative” feelings. What a relief it can be for a child to know that it’s alright to be angry, sad, upset, or grumpy—all the while hearing that it’s not alright to hurt the baby or anyone else. Our children (of all ages) need to hear that we love them even when they’re experiencing difficult feelings.

To a firstborn child, a family means three people—”mommy, daddy, me.” When a new baby comes and starts to get a great deal of attention, it may still seem to the older child that the family is a threesome, but now it’s “mommy, daddy, and that new baby.” The “old baby” feels pushed out of the family triangle.

It takes a long time for love to grow between brothers and sisters. You can help that love grow when you let your children know that each one has a special place in the family —a place that no one else can ever take.

Acting like a Baby

Sometimes when there’s a new baby in the family, the older child will seem to go backward in development—starting again to thumb-suck, bed-wet, cry a lot, or become extra-clinging. After all, those are the sorts of things babies do, and babies seem to get all the attention.

How much easier it would be if our children could say to us, “I’m really mad that you’ve brought home another baby. Wasn’t I good enough for you? It feels like no one pays any attention to me any more!” But young children aren’t able to use words to tell us how they’re feeling. They can only feel it and find ways to let those feelings out. Their anger and frustration may come out in ways that may not seem to have anything directly do with the new baby. However, it’s helpful to remember that when there are noticeable behavior changes in older children just after a baby’s birth, we can be fairly sure that those changes have something to do with the new brother’s or sister’s arrival.

Parents’ Ambivalent Feelings

Some parents recognize their own ambivalence about having another child. They say that, now and then, they feel they’re betraying their firstborn, or they wonder if they can handle raising another child. Just knowing those feelings are natural and normal can help us find healthy ways to manage them.

Most families discover that it can take sev­eral months for an older child to get used to the new baby. Hugs and loving words can go a long way in helping your older child through hard times. In the long run, with all the ups and downs of family life, brothers and sisters often develop an extra special relationship that enriches each of them throughout their lives.

Take Care of Yourself

There’s so much to do in caring for all the usual needs of the family, and now there is a new baby! When you’re exhausted and you don’t feel your normal self physically (or hormonally), it’s very hard to be kind and patient and it can hurt your feelings when your older child gets angry at the new baby or at you. Your own rest is one of the most important things to help you cope, so when you’re older child is sleeping, do all you can to get some rest yourself. Hopefully, you’re able to ask for help from relatives and friends when you feel you need it. It takes a lot of inner strength to say that you need help. People who love you are delighted when you can, and do.

Helpful Hints

Before the Baby Arrives:

  • It’s probably a good idea to wait as long as you can to tell your child about a new baby coming. Young children don’t understand time the way adults do, and it’s hard for them to wait so long for future events to happen.
    • Let your child know what to expect from newborns: they sleep a lot, they cry, they can’t play games or talk, and grownups have to do almost everything for them. If you know another family with a new baby, you might want to make a short visit so your child can see firsthand what an infant can and cannot do. “Sibling classes,” available at some hospitals for big brothers and sisters, can be helpful, too.

Arriving Home:

  • Let someone else carry the baby into the house so you can give your full attention to your older child. Some parents are surprised whenthey get a “cold shoulder” or an angry “hello.” That’s usually a child’s way of saying, “I love you so much. I’m mad at you for leaving me and for loving another baby.”
  • Spend time with your older child. Set aside “just you and me” time, like when the baby is sleeping. When children know they can count on one-on-one time somewhere during the day, they may be able to manage better through the other times. Moments when you’re listening carefully—even times when you’re doing something simple like zipping up your child’s jacket—can say, “I still love you no matter what.”
  • Let your child hear, “You have a special place in our family, and the baby does, too.” That helps children know that no one will ever take their place. In fact, your firstborn child might feel especially proud to know he or she was the one who made you a “parent” in the first place.
  • Let your child know it is okay to be angry, upset or grumpy about the new baby; however, it’s never okay to hurt the baby. It’s very scary for children to think they might hurt the In general, young children can’t be trusted with the new baby without an adult’s supervision. It is absolutely essential for them to know that you will not let them hurt the baby, just as you will not let anyone hurt them.
  • Encourage your child to find healthy ways to express feelings about the baby. An appro­priate, wonderful gift for an older child is a realistic-looking infant baby doll. Whether your child is a boy or girl, the doll can encourage some helpful play about being a caring mother or father. Don’t be surprised if there’s some spanking or rough play with the doll. You might also see a lotof different feelings coming out in drawings, puppet play, or make-believe play. These are helpful ways children can use to express how they feel—ways that don’t hurt the baby or anyone else.
  • Help your child feel proud about being the older one. Show your appreciation for all the things he or she can do that the baby can’t yet do, like going for a walk, sharing treats, playing with toys, and using words to say what he or she is thinking, doing, and feeling.
  • Involve your child in caring for the baby. Encourage your child to sing or talk to the baby, get the diapers, and play peek-a-boo. Point out times when the baby stopped crying or laughed because of something your older child did. When children are given ways to help with the baby, they feel more grownup, needed, and special.

 

Daniel Learns about Empathy- Using their play toolkits, Daniel and O the Owl are pretending to make “repairs” to Daniel’s playhouse. Daniel is having lots of fun hammering loudly, but it’s upsetting O, who would rather do something quieter. Daniel loves hammering so much that it’s hard for him to see why it upsets O. Mom helps Daniel think about how O is feeling. He comes to realize that they can both have fun as quiet handymen!

Empathy at School- Chrissie and Daniel are playing “doctor” at school today, but when Chrissie loses her special bracelet, she doesn’t feel like playing anymore. Daniel has trouble understanding why. Teacher Harriet helps him understand how Chrissie may be feeling. Daniel remembers how worried he was when he thought Tiger was lost, and decides to stop playing and help find the bracelet.

Learning Goals

The learning goal of this episode is to help children develop caring attitudes toward others.

The strategy song of this episode is: Think about how someone else is feeling.

Fred Rogers Timeless Wisdom

“Caring grows little by little as children develop the ability to see the world through other people’s eyes. That’s the foundation for empathy, the capacity to appreciate how others might feel.”- Fred Rogers Read More on Helping Young Children Develop Empathy

Winter Holidays

What is it about the winter holidays that stimulate so much emotion?

Here are some words of wisdom from Fred Rogers:

Traditions

The winter holidays recall feelings of warmth, generosity, light, and love. Almost every family has some traditions for the winter holidays. Often, those traditions awaken both our senses and our memories. When we think about the holidays, many of us quickly think about food. For most of us, food is tied to nurturance and love, to good tastes and good feelings of satisfaction.

When most of us were little, warmth was experienced as pleasurable. The winter holidays, for many of us, bring sharp contrasts between warm hearths, warm hugs, warm laps, and the coldness of the season.

The winter also brings strong contrasts between darkness and light. The lighting of candles at Hanukkah drives away the darkness. Most of us recall the twinkling lights of Christmas, from candles in church to sparkling lights outside of houses and shopping malls.

Holiday songs and carols often bring strong feeling of times past as well. Long before we could understand the words or hum the tunes, we likely experienced the closeness and security that accompanied the warmth of being cuddled by our parents.

Most people say it’s their family traditions that make the days special for them. Traditions can be like anchors that help us feel more secure and stable.  They can be especially important when families feel the frenzy that sometimes comes with the holidays. Some traditions from the past may not work well for children today. So, families tend to develop their own traditions. We may be surprised at how little it takes to make a day feel really special.

High Expectations

Winter holidays can bring with them high expectations. Some adults create so much excitement about holidays that children come to think of them as the most special days of the year. Adults can get caught up in wanting to create the “perfect day.” They feel the pressure from the media as well. The loudest message of the season, shouted from millions of television sets, newspapers, and magazines, seems to be “To spend more is to love more and to be more dearly loved.” What a seductive message, especially for parents! But of course, that’s not true or realistic.

Nonetheless, the desire to try to make the holiday a perfect day, can easily lead to disappointment for children and adults. It’s only natural that such heightened anticipation might lead to expectations that can never be met.

Even if expectations are met, it can be hard for a child to receive too much of anything—gifts, food, attention—at any one time. In fact, it can be just plain overwhelming for children to receive so much of everything. They may wonder. “How can I make up for all this? How can I ever say ‘thank you’ enough? How can I ever be good enough in return for all of this? There was so much confusion and so many presents, I can’t remember what I got.”

If expectations are not met, the day might bring tears and arguments leaving parents feeling, at the end of the day, that their children never appreciated any of it. “We did all this for you, and why aren’t you happy?” There’s a letdown that turns that “perfect” day into a big disappointment. Of course, no one wants to disappoint a child; however, an important part of being parents is helping our children cope with disappointment.

Children sometimes ask for gifts their parents can’t afford or don’t feel are appropriate. We can help children learn early on that there are limits to what people can have. Some parents have told their children, “We can’t buy everything you want. We don’t have enough money for all that. We need money for our home, food, clothes, and taking care of the other things that you need and we need.” If parents are willingly supportive, they can help a child face disappointment and grow from it. And coping with disappointment is a “gift” that they’ll be able to use all their lives.

Helpful Hints for the Winter Holidays:

  • Find some quiet time before the holidays to ask your child what traditions he or she has enjoyed over the years. They may be the ones you want to make sure to preserve.
  • Involve your child in the preholiday activities by working together to make name cards for the family meal, making cookies, creating holiday cards, or setting up the candles. Participating gives children an important sense of belonging.
  • Before going to another home for a family gathering for the holidays, let your child know what to expect. Talk about what you know about the house, your memories of being there (if you’ve been there as a child), and the guests who might be there.
  • Commotion and crowds can be over-stimulating for children and make it harder for them to control their impulses. Try to be aware of when your childbegins to be stressed and go to a quiet place with your child to lie down for a while, to look at a book, or to take a walk. Once children become over-stimulated, exhausted, fretful, or just plain out of control, it’s harder for them to settle down. They need to feel confident that their parents will help them get back into control.

Fred’s Favorite Gift Suggestions

The gift of who you are: “The greatest gift you ever give is your honest self.” If you like to make things out of wood, or sew, or dance, or style people’s hair, or dream up stories and act them out, or play the trumpet, or jump rope, whatever you really love to do, and you love that in front of children, that’s going to be a far more important gift than anything you could ever give them wrapped up in a box with ribbons. And what’s more: the last thing in the world you have to be is perfect at it. It’s the spirit that gives that kind of gift its wings.”

The gift of caring: We’re all on a journey—each one of us. And if we can be sensitive to the person who happens to be our ‘neighbor,’ that, to me, is the greatest challenge as well as the greatest pleasure. Because if you’re trusted, the people will allow you to share their inner garden—what greater gift!”

The gift of small things:Some of the best things to celebrate are the small moments that happen in everyday life, like seeing someone help another person, learning something new, or noticing a beautiful sunset, a pretty flower, or a flight of birds. When we can take the time in the midst of our busy world to celebrate things like that, we’re nourishing our children and ourselves. In easy times and in tough times, what seems to matter most is the way we show those nearest us that we’ve been listening to their needs to their joys, and to their challenges.”

A closing quote from Fred Rogers:

“How I wish that all children in this world could have at least one person who could embrace them and encourage them…somebody who would let them know that the outsides of people are insignificant compared with their inside to show them that no matter what, they’ll always heave somebody who believes in them.”

           Strategy Song from Daniel Tiger: Making something is one way to say “I love you.”

Daniel is Jealous: Daniel and Katerina are playing “airplane” with Grandpere. Daniel thinks Katerina is getting too much attention from Grandpere and starts to feel jealous. Daniel explains his feelings and is reassured that he is Grandpere’s one and only Daniel.

Jealousy at the Treehouse: Daniel and Katerina are at O the Owl’s house today, playing with his new science kit. Daniel and Katerina feel jealous of O because they want science tools just like his. After talking about their feelings, the children realize how they can all enjoy O’s special science kit.

Learning Goals

The learning goal of this episode is to help children identify, express, and manage their feelings.

The strategy song of this episode is: When you feel jealous, talk about it.

Fred Rogers Timeless Wisdom

When we talk with children about their feelings of jealously, we let them know that ‘it’s all right to have those feelings. At the same time, we can assure them that they will always have a special place in our lives and no one can ever take away.”- Fred Rogers

 

Read More on Helping Children with Jealous Feelings

Language pays a key role in helping children deal with their feelings. Feelings are a part of being human. Of course, talking about feelings can be a challenge for people at any age, even more so, for young children who don’t use words well, especially when they are upset. Sometimes feelings can be a jumble inside and are hard to sort out or name. That can be one of the times when children find it most difficult to tell us how they feel.

We need to encourage children to talk about their feelings. Being able to use words to describe what they are feeling gives children power over their feelings. Giving words to feelings can make them become a lot less overwhelming or upsetting or scary.

When children can talk about their feelings with you, they can learn that their feelings are natural and normal, and that others feelings, too. Give your child the words to use to express how they feel—“I’m sad,” “I feeling jealous,” “I’m tired,” and “I’m mad.” When children can begin to express themselves with words, they are less likely to bite, hit, kick or use some other disruptive behavior.

Daniel Gets a Cold: It’s Prince Wednesday’s birthday party at school today! But Daniel is not feeling very well. He really does not want to miss the party, but learns that when you’re sick, rest is best.

Mom Tiger is Sick: It’s a busy day at Jungle Beach, and every one is working on something. Mom Tiger is finishing up invitations for Fruit Picking Day, when she starts sneezing. She’s not feeling very well. Luckily, Dad and Daniel help with the invitations so Mom Tiger can get some much needed rest!

Learning Goals

The learning goal of this episode is helping children with self-management skills.

The strategy song of this episode is: When you’re sick, rest is better.

Fred Rogers Timeless Wisdom

“Sometimes children need our help to find a balance between playing and resting, especially when they aren’t feeling well.”- Fred Rogers

 

Duckling Goes Home: Today at school, the kids learn that Ducky has grown too big for their classroom, and it’s time to take him back to the farm. Daniel and Miss Elaina are quite upset about the news. The children cope with their sadness in different ways, and they feel better –little by little.

Daniel Feels Left Out: On their way home from the neighborhood grocery store, Dad and Daniel stop by the tree house. O the Owl and Katerina Kittycat have been playing together all day, and are even having dinner together! Daniel feels left out. Mom and Dad Tiger help Daniel cope with his sad feelings, and he feels better-little by little.

Learning Goals

The learning goal of this episode is help children identify feelings and learn ways to manage them.

The strategy song of this episode is: It’s ok to feel sad sometimes, little by little you’ll feel better.

Fred Rogers Timeless Wisdom

“Using words gives children power over their feelings so they can work on controlling them, instead of feeling controlled by their feelings. Using words helps children separate their feelings from actions.” – Fred Rogers

Read More on Helping Children with Sad Feelings

Daniel Gets Frustrated: Daniel is playing at home with Mom Tiger today, but nothing seems to be going his way. He can’t do what he wants to do, and this makes him feel frustrated! With help from Mom Tiger, Daniel learns how to manage his frustration, and thinks of new ways to play.

Frustration at School: Daniel and his friends are playing ‘restaurant’ at school today. Daniel feels frustrated when he can’t find what he is looking for. Luckily, he learns to cope with his frustration by taking a step back and asking for help and soon dinner is served!

Learning Goals
The learning goal of this episode is
The strategy song of this episode is: When you’re frustrated, take a step back, and ask for help.

Fred Rogers Timeless Wisdom
“I’ve come to believe that, like so many aspects of our character, our attitude toward the smaller disappointments and frustrations of life depends a great deal on the attitudes of the grownups we loved when we were very young.”- Fred Rogers

Read More on N


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