Excitement is building around you. You're pregnant with your next child. Whether it's your second, third, fourth … it doesn't matter. What matters is that the child born before this one secretly wants to scream, "Stop leaving me out!" Instead, she sits back, watches … and waits. Waits for that moment when your attention is full on her. Attention you may not realize you've been diverting 100 percent elsewhere. Well, at least that's how she sees it. That's when feelings are held back only to be let loose at the most unexpected time.
Handling the Outbursts
With your own emotions already in a whirl, you may not be prepared for the emotions of your first-born child … especially if she's a young one. What makes it even harder is when her sudden cry for attention happens in the middle of a shopping trip. You're nowhere near finished with your list. After being told she couldn't have any candy, an outburst like no other rears it's ugly head. Oh, boy! What you don't want to do is ignore her reaction, says Judy Dunn in the book From One Child to Two: What to Expect, How to Cope, and How to Enjoy Your Growing Family (Ballantine; 1995). Ignoring her will only make the scene escalate and, in turn, trigger your own emotional meltdown. Your sudden flood of emotions may come out as anger. So, find a way to soothe her without giving in. Don't try to bribe her, either. An option may be removing her from the situation. Leave the store calmly to find a spot where you can talk to each other without the stares.
Sometimes, it's the attention of others that she may find gratifying. If she's not showing public outbursts as a way to get attention, she may be doing something different at home. Like some children, she may think she can go unnoticed and grab that piece of candy she was denied earlier without you knowing. Or, she could start ignoring what you ask of her. Going against the daily routine. Now, you've got to find a way to get her back … to gain her trust and attention like before.
Include Her on Decisions
If you plan to go shopping for baby items, take her along. She may not want to go shopping for a long time, but if you include her on your decisions, the shopping trip can be fun. Allow her to even pick out something you weren't really planning on buying. For instance, she may find joy in picking out a toy for her soon-to-be sibling. Or, maybe an outfit. Include her in your decision on what Baby wears home from the hospital, too. She'll love telling everyone she picked it out. Maybe it's something else.
• Try finding moments where you can ask her what she thinks you should make for dinner.
• Think about making a fun mommy/daughter date without Dad. She may find that funny and think you're giving her all the attention now.
• Finding little instances before Baby arrives that include her in decisions shows her the attention she's been begging for.
After Baby's arrival, keep up with the inclusions. Let her pick out what Baby wears for the day. Maybe she wants to introduce her new sibling to the new toy she picked out. Something as simple as having that little toy nearby could show her that you care about her decisions, too.