Adding a new member of the family comes with a lot of mixed emotions. If you already have another child, it may be hard to fully tap into their feelings on the impending arrival. For some children, this may be the first time they are getting a little brother or sister. These changes can be a lot to handle and you may notice new behaviors in your current child. Lashing out, jealousy, and attention-seeking behaviors are just a few of the issues that can arise. Instead of making your pregnancy more stressful than it needs to be, you can work through counseling sessions. There are four benefits to seeking out pregnancy counseling and preparing for the sibling relationship before the new baby is even born.
One of the main benefits of attending a group counseling session with your spouse and child is having the ability to go together and communicate about the new sibling's arrival. A counselor can help your child open up about their true feelings and fears with this pregnancy. By attending these sessions, you can see into your child's emotions more and truly understand where they are coming from. A counselor may use games, flash cards, or art to help draw out these emotions and effectively communicate with your child. For example, in an emotions game, a child may get to move across the game board by expressing their emotions about specific situations with the impending newborn arrival. With emotional flashcards, a counselor may present a specific situation and ask a child to pick a labeled flashcard that represents their feelings. Examples include anger, happiness, or more involved flashcards like jealousy. By attending these sessions together, the child's anxieties can be lowered and the pregnancy can turn into more of a celebration and something to look forward to.
Single Sessions & Gaining Perspective
As you look forward to your baby's arrival, it can be very upsetting if your child has negative thoughts or actions associated with the experience. Attending single counseling sessions can help you gain a new perspective on your child. A counselor can showcase changes and situations directly from your child's point of view. When hearing these thoughts or concerns from another adult, you may be able to process them better and come up with strategies for communicating with your child. A counselor can help you build on relationships through every aspect of the pregnancy. Along with your current child, you can learn to balance between the new baby, your partner, and yourself. When things get overwhelming, a counselor can help break down these different elements and guide you through the pregnancy. Setting these plans in motion can help add a positive outlook on the pregnancy and still keep your relationship strong with the current child.
Guilt & Anxiety
When an only child has had years of time to themselves, it's easy for pregnant mothers to feel guilt for the changes that are going to be brought to a child's life. Different circumstances like sharing a room, celebrating holidays, or changing plans due to pregnancy appointments or classes can all increase the guilt and anxiety that is felt. A counselor can help you channel this guilt and cope through different aspects. Not only will you see that this is a big change for your child, but it's a big adjustment for the whole family.
Through sessions, there may be a number of talking points and different activities to help you focus on the future and positive things that come with it. For example, while you may feel guilty about old traditions that are going away, you can look forward to new traditions that the whole family does together.
One of the hardest parts for an only child is the actual birth. During this time, the child has to wait while the parents are in the hospital preparing for the impending arrival. By attending pregnancy counseling sessions, you can work on proper birthing plans for the child. These sessions can be attended by just you or with the child joining you. A counselor may offer resources like printable daily schedules that can help them be ready for different activities and daily routines while you're in the hospital. Other plans may include the visit to the hospital or a relative taking the child to pick out the gift for the baby. By having everything planned and set up, you can help remove the anxiety that comes with the waiting and unknown. A counselor can guide you through this process and any questions your child may have.
Keeping open communication is really important when dealing with children and new siblings. A counselor can help open these gates of communication and create a positive environment for your family.