Friday, 8 August 2014

Coping With Middle Child Syndrome

14 weeks ago a massive change occurred in our house, Baby Girl went from being the baby of the family, to being the middle child. She's not my baby any more, and no one knows that better than her. She is no longer little enough to be pushed around in the pushchair or fed at the dinner table, but not big enough to be allowed to do all the things her sister does.

The past 14 weeks have been a steep learning curve for both her and me, there have been many problems and many tantrums, and I'm sure there are still many more to come! I'm not going to pretend to be a guru on the subject, but here are the 3 main problems we have faced these past 14 weeks along with our 3 solutions. 

Everything belongs to Pop. Now this isn't actually the case, baby girl has her own toys and her own chair and her own blanket she's had since she was a baby, but she's still young enough to remember that a lot of what pop has used to be hers. Her cot, her pushchair, her car seat, her bouncer chair and even her mummy. The phrase 'it's not fair' has started coming out of her mouth an awful lot when I tell her something belongs to Pop, and whilst on the whole I find it a little bit funny, I know there is deeper resentment building.

'The Spot' is just a tiny cheepy Ikea rug that we used as a bath mat, but it's now her spot. It sits on the living room floor and no one, not Mummy, Daddy, Big Girl or Pop is allowed to sit on it or even walk over it. It's her space, that she can retreat to when she needs something to be just hers. She really loves her spot and occasionally it even follows her around the house! 

Mummy is never available. The second problem we faced was that Baby Girl only ever wants me when I'm feeding Pop, settling him to sleep or just having cuddles with him on the sofa. I was finding myself telling her off a lot as she tried to climb over us, I would get upset as Pop woke up or she tried to sit on him and she was getting upset because she just wanted her place on my lap back. The situation very quickly descended into a tantrum as both of us got angry. I was making time for her in-between feeding or settling Pop, but it wasn't good enough, she wanted to know while I was spending time with Pop that I still loved her and she was still my baby.

'The Cuddle Blanket' was actually an idea given to me by some friends, they had used a similar idea with their toddlers. We bought Baby Girl a pink, furry, snuggly throw and filled it with mummy cuddles...OK so I told her I filled it with mummy cuddles! When ever she feels she needs a cuddle and I'm not available, she can wrap herself in her special cuddle blanket and its just like mummy is cuddling her. She loves the idea, but it also acts as a visual aid for me. I can physically see when shes feeling left out and wanting me, and the blanket gives me a few extra moments to settle Pop before the situation escalates and we have a full tantrum on our hands.

Attention seeking. Having another child around means that I'm not as available as I once was, my time is now spread between 3 children who, rightly so, think they are the most important person in the world. Baby Girl quickly discovered that if she acts out she gets attention, and in recent weeks this has been in the form of wetting herself. If she wee's on the carpet or in her pants I will inevitably drop everything and engage with her by clearing up the mess and reminding her to use the potty next time.

The Pom Pom Jar is our way of giving positive attention, praising her for doing the right thing when verbal praise wasn't enough, and as Baby Girl loves the pom poms, she will literally do anything to collect them! It's such a simple idea, every time she uses the potty she gets a pom pom, when the jar is full she gets a treat, treats vary from a trip to the £1 shop, a hot-dogs and DVD night or ice-cream with a parent of her choice. (I love how it's the simple and relatively cheep things that toddlers love!)

These are such simple ideas but they have transformed our home, we've had fewer accidents and fewer tantrums. They still happen, especially when she's tired, she is only 2 after all! But these easy solutions have bought our happy girl back to us while she figures out where she fits in in our new family set up.

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