Preparing a Child for the Arrival of Twins
You're wise to be thinking about this now because becoming an "older sister," especially to two babies, can be a major adjustment for a child. Your child may fear that she's being "replaced," that she'll lose your affection, that the babies will be mean to her or that she did something wrong. These are all normal feelings, especially for young children, who don't quite understand what's going on and have a hard time expressing their emotions. Therefore, it's important to start talking about the new babies right away so your 2-year-old has plenty of time to adjust and know what to expect. You can:
- Read books about new siblings. (I love The Berenstain Bears and Baby Makes Five, in which Sister Bear is at first intensely jealous of her baby sister but then grows to love her.)
- Visit with friends or relatives who have babies and/or twins.
- Talk about how much care babies need, especially twins, but assure her that she will still receive plenty of attention from you. (And make sure you follow through on this promise after the twins are born by reserving lots of one-on-one time with your child.)
- Role-play taking care of the babies with dolls. Show your child how she can help you by singing to the babies, getting diapers and clothes for you, and pushing them in a stroller.
- Involve your child in going to the doctor's office to hear the babies' heartbeats. Let her lay her head on your tummy (if she wants to) and feel the babies moving. She's too young to get the "birds-and-bees" talk, but explain that the babies need to do some growing in there before they're ready to come home.
- Let your child help you select baby clothes and nursery decorations. (If you are wary of her taste, choose a couple of options that you like, and let her help make the final decision.)
- Give your child time to talk about the twins. Never get angry with her if she expresses negative feelings toward their arrival. Reassure her that she will always be your firstborn and will always be loved.
- If you're going to move your child into a different bedroom, do it well ahead of delivery so she doesn't feel like she's being kicked out to make room for the twins.
- Remind friends and relatives that your child may want to talk about things other than the new babies.
- Prepare your child for the possibility that you may need to spend extra time in the hospital and on bed rest, but that she will be well taken care of by Daddy, Grandma or other people.
Most importantly, emphasize that these twins are a gift to the entire family. They belong to your child just as much as they belong to you. You might even consider holding a "big sister" party for her. After all, being a big sister is a great honor!