Birth Order Battles
At some point, parents of more than one child begin to question some things… They ask each other, “Why are there far less pictures of our youngest child?” and “Did we let the oldest eat that at this age?” They begin to wonder if birth order really determines the type of person we become. In the case of parenting, are we destined to rear our children according to who was born first, second, or third?
Whether we believe in birth order or not, our children seem to naturally notice the subtle parenting nuances we express. Our child instinctively tries to do things the way his mommy does, and he tries to be perfect. A first born child tends to be the child that completes tasks when asked, seeking approval. If we ask him to clean up his room and he complies, try not to take one last sweep straightening out his pillow or books on the book shelf. He will notice, and first born children are often perfectionists. Redoing his work can send the message he’s not good enough. At least wait until he’s out of the room to get your fix.
Parenting the middle child can also be challenging at times. Your older child likely speaks for her, talks more at the dinner table and is simply ahead in the verbally expressive category. Naturally, you respond. This causes the middle child to be less expressive feeling that nobody listens to her anyway. It’s very important early on to make sure you are having special moments with your middle child. Set aside time to spend with her, listening only to her, even if it’s something as simple as the way an ant tickled her arm as it crawled to the ground. Help to let her know that she is just as important, even though you’ve known it all along.
Looking back to your own upbringing as an older or middle child, you may recall thinking (and perhaps still do), that the youngest sibling “used to get away with everything.” They probably did. Our parenting gets a little relaxed as we move along through the years. The same rules that we were so tough on enforcing with our older children have kind of turned into more of milestones. We are proud when the last child ends up cleaning their room even after having been asked multiple times, and he is often still rewarded. Your youngest knows how to make you melt with a smile and can tend to become manipulative. It’s important to remember that rules need to be consistent and apply to all. Plus, the others are watching, and you’ll probably hear from them later.
Most importantly, truly be wary of the time that you spend with each child. They only want approval, love and attention. In some way or another, each feels her way through the little looks, movements, and words that we use. They are brilliant little minds with tender little hearts. They each deserve to be given our best, even if it means a time-out.