When I was pregnant with my second baby, many questions crossed my mind- the kind of questions that moms pregnant with their second babies are familiar with:
Will I get the chance to spend time with the new baby?
Will he or she get the same love and attention from me?
Will I be able to kiss them and cuddle with them as much as I did with the first?
The expectant mom guilt hits its highest peak as the baby’s due date draws near. It keeps rising until the baby finally arrives and the new reality washes away all of the hesitations.
When I reached this peak worry stage, something unexpected happened to me and I must admit that it took me a while to figure it out.
Somehow, between the C-section and the lack of sleep, I got too distracted with the baby and without even realizing it, I spent too little time with my daughter. Her dad was doing a great job keeping her distracted from the baby and giving her the attention that she needed. I didn’t realize that she needed to spend more time with me as well.
The realization didn’t hit me immediately. At the time, I was barely able to tell the difference between day and night. I was sleeping less than five hours per day, not even consecutively.
Each time she came to me, I kissed and cuddled her. However, we all know that kids need more than that.
She needed her mom to spend more time with her. What’s more, she needed to have her mom only to herself, just like she had me before the baby was born.
- I survived a royal tantrum and I lived to tell the tale
- My secret tool for parenting toddlers (without losing it)
- What is REALLY going on in your toddler’s mind?
- What is a perfect mom? I still don’t get it
The day I realized what was going on in her mind, I started giving her more of me. She cooled down.
Our relationship got better until recently when the baby became more active and communicative. He can now respond to her and so she enjoys playing with him more. On the other hand, she can see us engaging with him more often than we used to do when he was younger and he was sleeping all day long.
As you can figure out, she did not appreciate this new excitement from our side towards the baby…that’s when all the whining and attention-seeking behavior began all over again:
If we cover the baby with a blankie, she wants one too.
If we respond to the cries (because this is the only way babies can talk to us, right?), she adopts the same behavior each time she needs to ask us for something.
The attention-seeking behavior has changed our bedtime routine. It has affected our trip each time we left the house, as she started asking for everything that she saw in the shops. If we refused to get that stuff for her, she would have a meltdown.
That was unbearable to me because I could feel her pain caused by jealousy but I was also not sure how to deal with it. It seems to me that responding to her needs was slowly turning into a subtle manipulation game from her side. She was starting to realize that each time she whined a bit louder and longer, we gave in (unwillingly most of the time), and she made sure to abuse this situation.
And then, I had an “a-ha” moment! After reading The Me, Me, Me Epidemic: A Step-by-Step Guide to Raising Capable, Grateful Kids in an Over-Entitled World I could see what was really going on in her mind. I finally understood why she was behaving this way, and what exactly she needed from us.
I knew that her behavior was caused by jealousy, but until then I didn’t truly understand the rationale behind it. For her, seeing how we reacted to her brother’s crying taught her that this behavior gets mom and dad’s attention. So, she copied it.
Kids like to receive any kind of response from their parents. While they obviously prefer a positive one, they are ready to go the extra mile to get a negative reaction from us if that’s the only thing they can get at the moment they need the attention.
That’s when I realized what all this whining was about. My initial thoughts were “but I never encourage or reward the whining, so why does she keep doing it anyway?”.
Well, it turns out that I was rewarding this behavior in a way that I didn’t anticipate.
One thing I like about this book is that it provides plenty of examples to enlighten us on what we do wrong, and why. My favorite part is the solution that it provides.
Kids want their parents’ attention, time and dedication. They want to be heard and encouraged. They need us to spend time with them, more than once per day.
The author, Amy McCready, provides a good method to teach us how to give our kids what they truly need from us. This method is known as Mind, Body and Soul which requires from us, parents to be present 100% when we spend some time with each kid on a one-on-one basis.
Today, I am taking the time to implement this method, as I have found it to be one of the best to deal with sibling jealousy that doesn’t involve spoiling the older sibling.
In the end, spoiling is not what kids truly need.
As a mom of two, I hope that both of my kids will grow up to feel that mom and dad were there for them, and that they both received an equal amount of love and care from us.
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