When two younger siblings arrive at the same time
By Deyse Messias
Our first daughter Bia just turned three when my husband Naldo and I discovered with great joy that I was pregnant again. Soon we would find out that our joy was doubled … I was expecting twins!
We wondered how Bia would handle this, getting not only one but two siblings who would need and receive a lot of attention. A bit of jealousy would be normal, but I’ve heard that children at times may even need to see a psychologist! What could we do to make this transition easier for her?
When I went to the doctor during the pregnancy, I took her with me, and the doctor always spent some time with her first before examining me. Later, she also suggested we buy a present for Bia when the twins are born, telling her that it is from her brother and sister. Bia’s excitement seemed to be growing in anticipation: when drawing a picture of her family, she already drew the twins in my belly.
When the twins were born, everybody couldn’t wait to see them. Family and friends came bearing gifts for the new arrivals. We were very aware of and sensitive to Bia’s reaction, so we bought some things Bia needed, like a hairband or socks, and wrapped them in gift paper. When the visitors came we made sure that they gave a small gift to Bia as well. Soon we noticed that she was more excited about unwrapping the gifts for the twins than her own.
However, the two babies still needed a lot of attention, so I had some help from two ladies: one was with one twin and the other with the second. At one point, Bia started to cry: “Nobody is paying attention to me!” We were happy that she didn’t keep it inside, but we realized that we had to do something. So when my husband would come home from work, he first spent some time playing with Bia before going to see the twins. We also felt she needed something special only for her — playing a game she liked, going out for lunch in the mall or watching a movie.
It helped that Bia really loved her little sister and brother, and she was beginning to feel part of their care. I always ask her to help open the lotion when I am changing their diapers, or get some clothes for them. Sometimes, when I am in the other room, she calls out: “someone is climbing on the table” or will get them water. She’s even attentive to other children that are smaller!
Once someone came to visit and joked: “Oh, can I take your brother or your sister home with me?” She really got upset and said, “No, you can’t, they are my family!”
We try to encourage the children to play together, and now (the twins are 18 months old) they actually start to do it.
They also often fight about the TV, so we take turns, and when the twins watch something that they like, Bia can join them or wait until it’s her turn. Also my husband and I have our turn, and sometimes, I watch a food show just to help them stick to the agreement.
We realize that Bia, who is now 5, likes to talk a lot in the evening, especially when she’s ready to go to bed. In that moment, she shares about her day at school, or that boy that bothered her on the playground … We make this a special time just to listen to her. At other times, if something is on her mind, she starts to talk while doing things together like cooking or cleaning. On one occasion she was upset about something and closed herself in her room, slamming the door behind her. I always try to assure her that it is okay to cry or to be sad or upset, but not to be impolite. We don’t want her to learn to work things out in that way.
Sometimes it takes a bit of creativity to be there for the twins and also assure her our attention too, but we hope to set an example in our effort to always care for each other, and to be honest and start again when we fail.
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