Preparing for a Sibling


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Question: I am 6 months pregnant. Our 3-year-old son, Terrence, isn't paying attention to the upcoming event. Should we be preparing him for the looming change in his life?

Answer: Terrence will experience a big change, indeed. Following are some suggestions to help him get ready for such a new life change.

How children pay attention

Children pay attention to important things in their lives in two ways. The first is to deal with it directly, such as by talking or playing. The second is to respond indirectly, which seems as if the child is not noticing the issue at all. These children may respond with actions or mood changes that are not obviously related to their life issue.

Terrence is one of those seeming-to-be-ignoring-something-important kinds. Sure, he has no real idea about what this whole baby thing entails. But he does see your excitement and the changes in the air. He knows something big is coming.

Understanding a new arrival

Although Terrence is wondering about what lies ahead, we are unable to know what he might be thinking. It is difficult to know what he has processed, what he has seen or been told. For example, he may have made exaggerated conclusions from brief contacts with infants, such as that they yell and cry all the time, or never. So our major recommendation is to share and ask — talk with him.

Bring up the new baby often, and ask him if he has ideas or questions. Being specific may help. For example, you can say: "Terrence, do you think our dinners will be a little different when the baby comes?" He may surprise you with his response.

Tomorrow is a long time away

Many parents emphasize the benefits of having a sibling. For example, perhaps you have told Terrence that he will be gaining a playmate. However, the far-away future is a vague place without much emotional meaning for a young child. Three-year-old children are comforted by what is happening now or very soon.

Just as you can generally take a child's worry away by saying something won't happen for a long time, having a friend a long time in the future does not provide much comfort. In fact, this approach can backfire because Terrence might expect a playmate on the first day.

Talk about the reality of the first days and weeks. Gradually tell him that the baby will sleep most of the time, won't be able to talk to him, and will cry sometimes and need Mommy or Daddy to come quickly to help. You can tell him how he will be able to help, planting the first seeds of how to be a good big brother.

Jumpstart independence

Terrence will be expected to be a "bigger boy" after his sibling arrives. To keep the amount of change manageable, take steps now to address some of the upcoming adjustments. For example, if he will be moving rooms, do it well in advance of the baby's arrival. Since he will need to play by himself when you are tending the baby, help him spend longer periods of time playing alone. Focus on any developmental task that is on his plate, such as completing toilet mastery. He will have quite enough going on in two months!

Finding middle ground

Children grow when challenges are met successfully. They grow when stretched to find new solutions and capacities. If challenges are too simple, they don't have to stretch. If challenges are too hard, they learn the lesson that they cannot succeed. The birth of a sibling will likely be too much and too hard unless you actively work to bring the challenge back to a manageable middle ground.

Preparation is the best way to make the challenge manageable. You will come up with additional ways to help prepare your son. For example, you could consider programs for siblings that are offered by some birth centers. Check them out in advance to be sure they provide information your child is ready to hear and learn. You can also visit the home of a friend or relative with a baby and settle in for a while. Be sure to constantly ask if he has had enough, and understand that boredom or misbehavior may be his way of saying he is becoming overwhelmed.

Smooth acceptance isn't the goal of preparation. You can expect that Terrence will struggle with his upcoming challenge. Some children seem to smoothly accept their new siblings, and although that is fine for some children, it is not the gold standard you should try for.

You have an exciting time ahead, and with your support, Terrence will wind up with a double reward — a new brother or sister and new emotional maturity.

The Lucy Daniels Center for Early Childhood is a nonprofit agency that promotes the health and well-being of children and families. The question of the month may be an illustration or composite of questions parents have asked.

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Calendar

December 2019

Wear your favorite holiday attire and dine with Santa Claus. Enjoy a delicious brunch, stories and crafts, and take pictures with the jolly man from the North Pole. 

Cost: $10/child. Free for ages 2 and younger

Where:
Joyner Park Community Center
701 Harris Rd.
Wake Forest, NC  27587
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Participants develop their naturalist skills and understanding of local nature. Ages 5-8 with parent. Register online. 

Cost: $8/resident, $10/nonresident

Where:
Stevens Nature Center/Hemlock Bluffs
2616 Kildaire Farm Rd.
Cary, NC
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Telephone: 919-387-5980
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Girls ages 5-12 take their favorite doll and have a creative time together preparing for the holidays. Register by emailing llpolkhouse2@gmail.com.

Cost: $22/attendee, $20/sister

Where:
Historic Polk House
537 N. Blount St.
Raleigh, NC  27604
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Cost: $3/person

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100 N. Greensboro St.
Carrboro, NC  27510
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Ebeneezer Scrooge was visited by three spirits, but what about the next Christmas? With heartwarming excitement, discover how the Cratchit family has fared in the year that has passed since old...

Cost: Free

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Wake Forest Renaissance Centre
405 S. Brooks St.
Wake Forest, NC  27587
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The Durham Medical Orchestra performs with special guest Joseph Alessi, principal trombone, New York Philharmonic.

Cost: Free

Where:
Baldwin Auditorium, Duke University
1336 Campus Dr.
Durham, NC  27705
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As a Christmas gift to our community and surrounding area, Wake Forest Presbyterian Church delivers the true Christmas story in a stirring virtual “walk” through Bethlehem to the stable...

Cost: Free

Where:
Wake Forest Presbyterian Church
12605 Capital Blvd
Wake Forest, NC  27587
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Sponsor: Wake Forest Presbyterian Church
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Contact Name: Meghan Reynolds
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Fun for the entire family, enjoy this wonderful, witty retelling of a classic fairy-tale. With a score consisting of well-known pop songs, follow Snow White and her Seven Dwarves as they try to...

Cost: $10-$60/person

Where:
Duke Energy Center for the Performing Arts
2 East South Street
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The choir presents its 49th performance on Handel's "Messiah."

Cost: Free

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Where:
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Cost: $9/adult, $3 ages 12 and younger

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Cary Arts Center
101 Dry Ave.
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Cost: $3/person

Where:
Century Center
100 N. Greensboro St.
Carrboro, NC  27510
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Help find candy canes hidden in Bond Park before the Grinch turns them green. Ages 6-12. Registration required online. Choose course #127871. 

Cost: $10/child

Where:
Bond Park
801 High House Rd.
Cary, NC
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Embark on a wild ride with favorite Disney characters Mickey, Minnie, Goofy and many others in this fun-filled getaway featuring unexpected hijinks and character interaction. Purchase tickets...

Cost: $15 and up

Where:
PNC Arena
1400 Edwards Mill Rd.
Raleigh, NC  27607
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Ages 1-5 and caregiver delight in the discoveries of nature. Register online. 

Cost: $8/resident, $10/nonresident

Where:
Stevens Nature Center/Hemlock Bluffs
2616 Kildaire Farm Rd.
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Telephone: 919-387-5980
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Get into the holiday spirit by decorating cooking, making a craft and enjoying a holiday children's show.

Cost: Free

Where:
Century Center
100 N. Greensboro St.
Carrboro, NC  27510
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Website »

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The Wake Forest Abilities Choir will present an evening of holiday music under the direction of director.

Cost: Free

Where:
Wake Forest Renaissance Centre
405 S. Brooks St.
Wake Forest, NC  27587
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Website »

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Cost: $15 and up

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Cost: Free

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State Farmers Market
1201 Agriculture St.
Raleigh, NC  27603
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Cost: free

Where:
Orange County Main Library
137 W Margaret Ln
Hillsborough, NC  27278
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Sponsor: Orange County Public Library
Telephone: 919-245-2539
Contact Name: Libbie Hough
Website »

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Where:
Crowder County Park
4709 Ten-Ten Rd
Apex, NC  27529
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Telephone: 919-662-2850
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Cost: Free

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North Carolina Museum of Art East Building and Museum Plaza
Raleigh, NC


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Cost: Free

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Harris Lake County Park
2112 County Park Dr.
New Hill, NC  27562
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Telephone: 919-387-4342
Contact Name: Joanne St. Clair
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Where:
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237 N. Salem St.
Apex, NC  27502
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Cost: $18/child; $28 for two children per family

Where:
Middle Creek Community Center
125 Middle Creek Ave.
Apex, NC  27539
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Friday, December 13, 6:00pm, at both the Millbrook and Wake Forest Campuses. Put on your Christmas jammies, grab a blanket and come out for a  festive night to watch the classic animated...

Cost: Free

Where:
Crossroads Fellowship
2721 E Millbrook Road
Raleigh, NC  27604
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Sponsor: Crossroads Fellowship
Telephone: 919-981-0222
Contact Name: Lorraine Entwisle
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Have some fun and make something great at the Clay studio (and parents can sneak away and grab a bite or do some shopping at Northgate Mall). Each kid will complete and paint a piece of pottery...

Cost: $18 per child per workshop

Where:
1058 West Club Blvd
Durham, NC  27701
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Telephone: 919-560-2726
Contact Name: Lauren Tannenbaum
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Embark on a wild ride with favorite Disney characters Mickey, Minnie, Goofy and many others in this fun-filled getaway featuring unexpected hijinks and character interaction. Purchase tickets...

Cost: $15 and up

Where:
PNC Arena
1400 Edwards Mill Rd.
Raleigh, NC  27607
View map »


Website »

More information

Sing along with the band as they perform holiday favorites of Christmas, Hanukkah, the winter solstice and more. 

Cost: Free

Where:
Cary Senior Center
120 Maury O'Dell Place
, NC  27513
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Website »

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Celebrate the love and joy that this season brings by creating art inspired by a Christmas tree. Register online. Choose course #126761.

Cost: $32/resident, $42/nonresident

Where:
Cary Arts Center
101 Dry Ave.
Cary, NC  27511
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Website »

More information

Give rugby a try. Take part in tag rugby pick-up games every Saturday morning at Baileywick Road Park, near the Second Shelter.  No experience necessary. All ages. 

Cost: Free

Where:
Baileywick Road Park
9501 Baileywick Rd
Second Shelter Field
Raleigh, NC  27615
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Sponsor: Raleigh Redhawks Rugby
Contact Name: denise travis
Website »

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Our Reindeer Romp is open to the entire community and our Girls on the Run families. So join us! Celebrate as nearly 1,000 girls reach their end-of-season goals – the finish line is only the...

Cost: $30 - $35

Where:
Koka Booth Amphitheater
8003 Regency Pkwy
Cary, NC  27518
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Sponsor: Girls on the Run of the Triangle
Telephone: 919-401-6307
Contact Name: Jamie Botta
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Ages 5-12 make a picture frame for the holidays. Snack provided. Register online. 

Cost: $30/resident, $45/nonresident

Where:
Halle Cultural Arts Center
237 N. Salem St.
Apex, NC  27502
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Ages 1-5 and caregiver delight in the discoveries of nature. Register online. 

Cost: $8/resident, $10/nonresident

Where:
Stevens Nature Center/Hemlock Bluffs
2616 Kildaire Farm Rd.
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Travel with us to Puerto Rico with books, games and arts and crafts!  Join the staff of ISLA (Immersion for Spanish Language Acquisition) for a fun filled hour! Best for ages 3 and up with a...

Cost: Free Gratis

Where:
Orange County Main Library
137 W Margaret Ln
Hillsborough, NC  27278
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Sponsor: Orange County Public Library
Telephone: 919-245-2539
Contact Name: Libbie Hough
Website »

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Embark on a wild ride with favorite Disney characters Mickey, Minnie, Goofy and many others in this fun-filled getaway featuring unexpected hijinks and character interaction. Purchase tickets...

Cost: $15 and up

Where:
PNC Arena
1400 Edwards Mill Rd.
Raleigh, NC  27607
View map »


Website »

More information

One ticket admits the entire family to decorate a special gingerbread house. Supplies provided. Workshops available at 2 p.m. and 4:30 p.m. Allergy-free workshop available at 11 a.m....

Cost: $40

Where:
Family Preschool
4907 Garrett Rd
Durham, NC  27707
View map »


Sponsor: Family Preschool
Telephone: 919-402-1500
Contact Name: Sue Henson
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Family Wildlife Series: Holiday Habitat Helpers Saturday, December 14, 2-3 Attract winter wildlife to your backyard by providing or improving their habitat.  Create simple outdoor decorations...

Cost: Free

Where:
Blue Jay Point County Park
3200 Pleasant Union Church Rd
Raleigh, NC  27614
View map »


Website »

More information

Embark on a wild ride with favorite Disney characters Mickey, Minnie, Goofy and many others in this fun-filled getaway featuring unexpected hijinks and character interaction. Purchase tickets...

Cost: $15 and up

Where:
PNC Arena
1400 Edwards Mill Rd.
Raleigh, NC  27607
View map »


Website »

More information

Embark on a wild ride with favorite Disney characters Mickey, Minnie, Goofy and many others in this fun-filled getaway featuring unexpected hijinks and character interaction. Purchase tickets...

Cost: $15 and up

Where:
PNC Arena
1400 Edwards Mill Rd.
Raleigh, NC  27607
View map »


Website »

More information

Join us as we watch for meteors during the Gemenids Meteor Shower. Local astronomers will help us observe these shooting stars and other phenomena in the night sky. As a bonus we may see or hear...

Cost: Free

Where:
American Tobacco Trail
1309 New Hill-Olive Chapel Rd.
Apex, NC  27502
View map »


Sponsor: Harris Lake County Park and the American Tobacco Trail
Telephone: 919-387-4342
Contact Name: Joanne St. Clair
Website »

More information

Favorite Christmas songs are presented in authentic Nashville country style with dazzling guitars and fiddles along with soaring harmonies. Purchase tickets online. 

Cost: $25/person

Where:
Wake Forest Renaissance Centre
405 S. Brooks St.
Wake Forest, NC  27587
View map »


Website »

More information

See the choir perform beloved Christmas songs with guest vocal group AVANTE. Purchase tickets online. 

Cost: See website for fees

Where:
Cary Arts Center
101 Dry Ave.
Cary, NC  27511
View map »


Website »

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