Wednesday, 21 September 2011

From one child to two

These past couple of weeks whilst starting my son at nursery, I've spent a bit of time with some of the other mums, several of whom have two children or more. I've been hearing them share stories of the ups, but mostly downs of the first few months adjusting from having one child to two. After a little while, they look at me and apologise for all the negativity, recognising that someone soon to have their second child might not want to hear all the horror stories!

To be honest, I have been taking it as helpful and not as something to scare me. After all, it's good to hear what others experience to be better prepared for what may lie ahead. In most cases the stories relate to the challenges they faced from the older child, testing them and reacting in new ways once the younger sibling was on the scene. Here are just a few examples of what the mums have related about their older child's behaviour:
  • Their child has recognised that when the mum is feeding the baby (especially breast feeding) she is in a weak position so they run off when outside / do things they know they shouldn't when at home (eg. writing on walls, pouring out drinks onto the floor).
  • Testing behaviour, pushing boundaries, being defiant about everything and driving the mother to tears. One mum distinctly remembered crying to her husband of their 2-year old, "why does he hate me?".
  • Rejecting their mother's best intentions. Another mum told me how when she suggested reading a book with her older son (something he had always loved), he refused and didn't want to spend that time with her.
  • With regards to nursery school itself, it seems some children don't like the fact that they get taken there whilst the younger child gets to stay with mum. Others however, enjoy the 'grown-up' time with their friends and teachers and it can be a way that they receive some extra attention during a needy time. 
  • Finally, a (sort of) funny story that one of the dads told me he'd heard from some friends of theirs. A child's grandmother asked if the child would like to have a story and the child replied, "yes, how about the one where the baby falls down the stairs and dies?". The parents recognised that shocking though it was, it was better for the child to vocalise such a thought in this way, rather than act upon it!
In all the above cases, I think we can recognise that the older child is wanting attention and doing whatever they think it takes to get a response and be noticed by their parent(s). You can't predict how your older child will react to having another person in the family and I think it's important to expect a period of adjustment and some tough challenges along the way.

If you have two or more children, what were your experiences when you had the second child? What were the most difficult situations you faced? Is there anything you would do differently?
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  1. I don't remember any huge trouble but it's been a while for me. After a couple of years my children became very close. Playing together a lot. So take heart and don't take anything your son does or say personally. He's just growing up. Love him and respect him; treat him like an intelligent person. He'll come through for you, I'm sure. :)

  2. My daughter really did well when we brought our son home. I think the most difficult thing is how busy you become. Trying to get the kids on a similar schedule and having double the work was tiring most days in the beginning.

  3. That sounds like very good advice Maryse, thank you for the wise words :-).

    Tiffany - thanks for sharing something you found challenging early on. That's a very good point about the difficulty of getting two children on a similar schedule.

  4. Although I'm only mum to one, I'm also stepmum to my partners child who is 10 years older than his sister. I guess that once they are that little bit older they handle it better as we had no problems in that department, aside from a bit of mental calculating of how much was spent on the baby compared to him (perfectly understandable). I'll be interested to see how you get on with a second child as we haven't completely ruled out having another before little 'un starts school. Good luck! xXx


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