Oh… to be Important!

"Thank you for snuggling so gently with your new baby sister."

Tip 47 – Make your child feel valued, needed, and important.

Notice and acknowledge cooperation and helpfulness as much as you can! Your child will love it. Here are a few sample ways.

*  “Thank you… for taking care of your baby sister.”

*  “I appreciated… how you carried the bag to the car.”

*  “I loved… when you sat with me at the game.”

Once you get used to these patterns, you will probably use them often. Just by showing your awareness, your child will feel that inner glow of feeling valued, needed, and important.

Parenting Insight…

The happiness that comes from making a contribution is one of the greatest feelings of all. “To the degree to which you are sought after or needed by other people will you become a fully-actualized person.”

–Norman Vincent Peale


  1. Parents ask a lot about sibling rivalry. Here’s the way one grandparent inquired about it?

    My 4 year old grandson shows little or no interest in his 3 month old baby sister. Is this normal and we should we just let it ride or should we be more proactive in encouraging and insisting that he show love to the new baby?

    Absolutely normal. No need to ride it out, and no need focus on showing love to the baby. By certain kinds of positive interactions, you should see it happen on its own.

    As you can see from the tip above, the more your grandson feels valued, needed, and important, the more he will naturally show his love to the new baby. Now let’s get practical. Here are some positive steps you can take.

    * Whenever you or either of the parents are attending to the baby, include an important helping job for the big brother like carrying something that you need, distracting or entertaining the baby to get more baby cooperation, or even just keeping you company when you are with the baby.

    * Convey in your own way that you could never take the right care of the new baby if you didn’t have his help and love.

    * Remember the old “What’s in it for me?” caution. Build something like story time or play time for the big brother into baby care time in whatever way you can.

    These are a few starter ideas. I am sure you will think of others that fit your situation even better.

    Thank you for inquiring about this. I hope you will find the suggestions helpful.

    • We have a new baby in our home, also. My kids are 13, 5, 3 and 4 months. Right away we began telling the kids we’d need their help – and that their new role was very important and special. They help to bring diapers, get clothing for the baby, pick out her outfits or socks and more. We attempt to make them feel a part of things so they don’t feel left out.

      I allow them to hold the baby on the couch or bed for short periods so they know their touch/love/attention/smiles are wanted by the baby. That way, they don’t become angry, thinking we want the baby but they can’t have her, etc.

      In addition, I think it’s very important to continue to spend time with the older sibling(s)! For instance – snuggle time, reading time, walks, ice cream trips, watching a TV show they pick (I’m sick of My Little Pony now, yes! LOL). Each of my kids wanted to know and be assured that we still love them and see THEIR individuality and unique character traits. They want to know that they are still needed and wanted and valued.

      Eye contact is another big one for me. Rather than say, “Don’t bother me now – I’m busy with the baby.” I make eye contact with my kids and say, “I’m very busy nursing right now but I’ll be done in ten minutes. Then we can play Lego’s together and the baby can sit near us and watch in her little chair, okay?”

      Great tips, Sally – thanks!


      • Hi Shara,

        How special that you took the time to share your experiences with us. As much as I described the concept of how vital it is for siblings to feel valued, needed, and important when welcoming a new baby, you added tried and tested examples that made the idea come even more alive.

        Love for children is one commodity all parents have. Tools for how to channel it are often missing, and you helped with that.

        Thank you again for making your contribution to this very important topic.

    • Marilyn Perlyn

      Thanks for the great tips, Dr. Sally! You are so right and I will now incorporate your ideas into our daily routine. I appreciate your sound advice!

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