The excitement of pregnancy is contagious. Everyone loves to hear the joyous news of a new baby on the way. Pregnancy announcements, gender reveal parties and baby showers are great ways for couple to share the news that a new little one is one the way. But what’s best for adults isn’t always necessarily the best for children. News about a new little brother or sister can be overwhelming for some kids. Let’s take a look at some age appropriate ways to let children know their family is growing!
Timing. Most experts recommend waiting until you’re starting the show before announcing the news. It’s hard to a young child to comprehend that their little brother or sister is coming when they don’t see ‘the bump.’ Also, waiting until after the first trimester may mean you’re feeling a bit better. If you’re tired and nauseous, it’s OK to tell your little one you’re not feeling well, but attributing feeling sick to the new baby may make your child feel the baby is hurting Mommy. Plus, waiting a few months gives you a little more time to plan the news!
Talking. When you’re ready to reveal your news to your child, make sure it’s a quiet, relaxed time when both parents are there. Talk about how exciting it was for you to find out you were pregnant with them. Remind them how special they are and how much you love being their parent. If your child is under the age of two, there isn’t too much more to say that they will understand, other than watching your belly grow and knowing the baby is coming. Older children (three and up) may have more questions. Make sure you let them talk about how it makes them feel but also don’t be alarmed if they don’t say much! It will take them time to process the news.
Sharing. As your pregnancy moves along, keep talking to your child and ask them to help you prepare for the baby. Picking out new baby clothes, decorating the nursery or just reading books about new babies are all good ways to get your child involved. Again, depending on their age, they may be excited and want to participate in everything, or, they may seem ambivalent. Both reactions are fine. The important thing to remember is not to force your excitement on your child. Children grow and develop at their own pace and their love for their new siblings will develop in its own time.
February is a month dedicated to love. There’s a lot to celebrate about Valentine’s Day when kids are little (and even when they get bigger). It’s the perfect time to express ourselves to our children, talk about loving and caring each other and ourselves. Kids feel a natural affection for animals, so that may become part of the discussion, as well. If you don’t already have a pet and your child is asking for one, how do you know when the time is right? At what age are children old enough to accept the responsibility of a pet? And how do you decide what kind of pet to welcome into your home?
All great questions and, of course, no easy answers. Let’s take a look at some issues to think about before taking the leap into the world of pets.
Timing. When to buy or adopt a pet all depends on your family and the type of pet you choose. There’s no perfect or idea age for a child to help care for a pet. However, if your child is just learning to potty train or just starting a new year at school, it might be best to let one major life change pass before bringing a pet home. Talk to your child about the responsibility of having a pet. Visit homes of friends who have pets and let your child see what’s involved. Read books to your child about owning a pet. One great book is The New Puppy by Anne Civardi.
Type. No two pets are alike. Researching breeds of dogs and the habits and upkeep of any type of animal is very important. Reptiles can make great pets (they stay contained and are fairly low maintenance) but children need to be taught about good handwashing habits, as most reptiles carry and transmit salmonella, a bacteria that can cause diarrhea and vomiting. If you’re adopting a dog or cat from a local shelter, be sure to observe the animal closely and spend some time learning about its behavior from shelter employees. Not all dogs and cats found at shelters previously come from homes with children, so there may be some adjustment time needed for the animal to warm up to kids. Still not sure? Try goldfish; a great starter pet.
Respect. Once your new pet is in the home, make sure you talk to your child about respecting animals and their responsibility to help them. Feeding, bathing, walking and playing are all part of pet ownership and your child can help with these tasks. Make sure your child is aware of your pet’s schedule. Encourage them to keep a chart, accessible to them and easy to read, that shows when the pet was fed, fresh water was given, etc. Show them that they are a part of the family’s role to help your pet have a loving and nurturing home.
Pets can be an excellent way to teach kids responsibility. Of course, Mom and Dad will be the primary caregivers, no matter how much kids help, so make sure your schedule and family dynamic work for having a pet!