Teach Sibling(s) Pivotal Skills Before Baby #2 Arrives!
Whether this is your 2nd, 3rd, or 4th baby, it will be a new experience for the older sibling(s). S/he has never been a “big sibling” or a “middle child”, or an “oldest child”. Dynamics will be changing in that attention will be divided, or spread across more children. You will be busier caring for this new little bundle of joy! Your ability to meet the needs of your other child(ren) as quickly as you once did will be compromised. Is your child ready for this change?
We recommend teaching a variety of pivotal skills BEFORE baby arrives! Teaching independent skills for age-appropriate self-care tasks is one important skill to work on before your baby arrives!
The end goal is independence!
The best way to teach behaviors, for which the end goal is independence, is to minimize verbal instructions, and use demonstration or modeling to teach what is expected. Children often become dependent on verbal prompts and repeated instructions! They also learn parents may not follow through or end up doing the task for them if they delay long enough.
Ways to reduce verbal instructions during independent tasks:
- Start with an instruction so your child knows what is expected. Then shift to silent support to keep them going and prevent dependence on your verbal reminders. Talk about anything but the task at hand.
- Eliminate distractions in the environment while teaching.
- If your child gets off-task, use physical guidance or gestures like pointing to an item or handing an item to your child, rather than repeating verbal instructions, to get your child back on track.
Independent skills to teach toddlers:
- Gets dressed (we can only expect a toddler to do parts of the dressing routine independently)
- Take shoes off or puts them on independently
- Washes hands
- Feeds self
- Serves him/herself portions of food
- Picks up toys when instructed
- Throws away garbage when instructed
- Brings dishes to the sink
- Falls asleep without an adult present
Independent skills to teach preschoolers:
- All of the above except completed independence with toileting and dressing
- Gets dressed for outside
- Chooses clothing to wear
- Simple chores (puts away some dishes, sets the table, sorts laundry)
- Washes self in the bath
- Gathers backpack essentials
Independent skills to teach school-aged children:
Teach your school-ager to be independent in any areas you have seen s/he CAN do the tasks but may just need guidance to stay on task. You may also work on improving consistency if your child inconsistently performs them. Prior to this age, you may have needed to remain present while your child completes the tasks. A next goal for school-agers would be that they remain on-task as you are able to leave the area and provide only short “doses” of attention as your child is on-task.
Don’t wait to teach new skill until after your baby arrives!
We know your child needs these skills once the new baby is at home. You will have more on your plate once your baby arrives. Teach siblings these skills before baby arrives to prevent unwanted patterns from developing! Register for our November webinars “What to do to Prepare For Baby #2” to learn more about our evidence-based strategies to prepare your child(ren) for a new sibling!
Alicia Janni, BS, BCaBA
The material contained herein is for informational purposes only; and is not intended to create or constitute a behavioral consultation relationship between Behave Your Best, LLC and the reader. The information contained herein is not offered as behavioral consultation and should not be construed as behavioral consultation.