Q. I need help finding a book about the arrival of a new sibling. We have a 2-year-old and a 2-month-old. The 2-year-old was potty-trained. Now she's having accidents at school. She's also having temper tantrums.
-- A Parent in Dallas
A. The Berenstain Bears, Frances the badger and many other beloved characters have helped toddlers face the unbearable: a newborn baby brother or sister.
"A Baby Sister for Frances" by Russell Hoban (HarperCollins, $6.95) is "an obvious choice," says Megan Brett of Durham, N.C. Frances feels neglected when a baby sister joins the family. She runs away, under the dining room table. As Frances pouts and nibbles on cookies, she's comforted by what she overhears: Her parents talk about how much they miss her, and how everyone's part of the family.
When it sets in that a baby is "for keeps," a toddler often needs help to work through her jealousy. Readers have found solutions tucked in several children's books, as well as books for adults.
"I recently experienced some of the new-baby backlash that the parent describes," says Diane Hurley of Lockport. "My daughter was 2 1/2 when her new sister arrived. She was throwing tantrums, throwing books around, just becoming a monster child. "
"I'm Safe With the New Baby" by Wendy Gordon (BackYard Books, $7.95) helped Hurley's daughter deal with her conflicting emotions. She identified with siblings in the Pup family who are annoyed by how much attention their baby brother requires.
Setbacks are typical after a baby arrives, several parents and experts say. One mom, whose kids are 18 months apart, says potty training and adjustment to a baby proved to be too much at once for her toddler. "For us, we went back to diapers," she recalls.
The good news: Many troublesome changes in your child's behavior don't last beyond the first six months, Judy Dunn says in "From One Child To Two" (Fawcett Books, $10), one book suggested for this Dallas mom. "The more you can keep a calm, stable routine, and pay lots of attention to your firstborn, the quicker you're likely to get back to a happier life together," Dunn writes.
Ann Urling of Charleston, W.Va., suggests "Siblings Without Rivalry" by Adele Faber and Elaine Mazlish (Avon Books, $12), which includes exercises to help parents understand how a baby can make an older child feel threatened. Children need to be able to express how they feel, the authors say.
Two other favorites readers suggest:
"The Berenstain Bears' New Baby" by Stan Berenstain (Random House, $3.35). Mama and Papa Bear help Small Bear adjust to a new addition.
"Arthur's Baby" by Marc Brown (Little Brown & Co., $5.95). Arthur isn't sure he's happy about the new baby, but he feels better as he learns to help take care of her.
New read-aloud books with a similar theme:
"Baby Talk" by Fred Hiatt (McElderry Books, $14). As Joey gets to know his baby brother, he learns to translate all the baby talk.
"What Baby Wants" by Phyllis Root (Candlewick Press, $15.99). Little brother soothes baby with a cuddly quilt and a lullaby.
"Oonga Boonga" by Frieda Wishinsky (Dutton Children's Books, $15.99). Nobody can make baby Louise stop crying, except her big brother Daniel.
Can you help?
I have an 11-year-old daughter who still cannot spend the night with a friend. She has tried many times, but every time I get a call between 11 p.m. and 2 a.m. to come get her. It happens at everyone's house, except she has been able to stay with relatives. My problem: This school year, the kids are required to go to "Outdoor Education," a four-day camp. The trip is six months away, and my daughter is already nervous about it. Should I force her to go and prove to her that she can really do it?
-- A Mother in Akron, Ohio
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