It’s normal for your child to go through a certain adjustment period when he sees his big brother or sister suddenly entering a new phase and when the routine he knows so well suddenly changes. As parents, our role is to try to accompany them on their journey and guide them when we see that they are worried.
What children can feel
Children can have a certain difficulty understanding why they no longer see their brother or sister everyday when they used to spend all their time with them before. They may experience some jealousy or feel left behind and those emotions may sometimes destabilize them.
We spoke to Lyne Brisebois, a worker at the Canetons & Coccinelles Educational Daycare who explained that « some children may indeed experience a period of adaptation at the very beginning, when the oldest starts school and which may last about two to three months. They have a little trouble understanding the different schedule, the school bus system and may even think that the oldest is actually staying at home with his parents while he has to go to daycare. You can usually notice a difference in their behavior which sometimes results in them not wanting to go to daycare or being a little sadder, rebelling or not listening to instructions. »
How to prepare your child
If your youngest is attending a daycare, you can work together with his teacher to establish a strategy that will help facilitate that adaptation period and will ensure that your child is adequately prepared for the upcoming change.
Lyne says that « teachers can of course take the time to discuss the situation with your child and explain what their big brother or sister is going through, demystify school, the bus and everything that goes along with it. We also like to play games with the kids, read stories about school and use that as inspiration for crafts. It tends to make things easier and increase their understanding and comfort level. »
What you can do at home
When your children are home with you, you might want to start planning separate activities so you can spend quality time with each child alone together. In addition to allowing you to prepare your eldest for the start of school, you can also use that time to help your youngest and let him express what he feels about the situation so you can address his fears and reassure him.
Lyne tells us that « it’s best to speak to them about it before the first day of school so they’re not surprised by what’s happening. You can explain what goes on at school and the context of traveling by bus, the new schedule and lunches. If you can, have your youngest witness these various stages, for example by taking him to the bust stop so he can see for himself his brother or sister getting on the bus and coming back home in the afternoon, or even by visiting the school to see children playing in the yard. »
She also suggests you try to include some activities at home that are school-related such as coloring a school bus, preparing the lunches together or by doing role play games where you are dressed up as a teacher who is instructing your little « students ». The important thing is that your youngest can visualize and understand what is going to happen, and that he feels included and reassured that even though they’re not together, they will both be just fine!