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Sure, we’ve all heard of “middle-child syndrome” and how hard it can be for middle kids to find their niche in the family when they’re sandwiched between the over-achieving first born and the over-babied baby. But it’s Middle Child Day, and even though middle children do have it rough, we’re celebrating some of the perks that come with the middle child territory (the frosting between the Oreo cookies of siblings, if you will):
When your oldest sibling was born, he lived in an adult-furnished house with adult talk and adult dinner parties. There was glassware, china and wine still living in cabinets less than three feet off the floor. Middle child, you didn’t have to deal with any of that crap. By the time you came out, the kitchen was all brightly colored plasticware; the wine cabinets had already been converted to toddler shoe cubbies; and the TV was already comfortable in its constant stream of “Bubble Guppies.” “This is a kid’s house!” your older sibling proclaimed until your parents finally got the point. Yes, it is. And now every square inch is covered in toys, and you go to kids’ birthday parties every weekend—as it should be.
Seriously. You don’t have to worry about your mom trying the cry-it-out method…then caving…then cosleeping, until you kick her out of her own bed and take over said comfy California king for all of eternity. No, middle child, all of that’s already been established before you. You get the spoils, and you didn’t have to go into battle. Get it? Yes, it’s awesome.
No one cares about your opinion, and that’s awesome. When the grandparents come to visit, they’re there to see all of you (you and the other siblings). And, unlike first child’s babyhood, you will never have to deal with four adults staring at you, making goo-goo eyes and asking what you want for lunch. Nope, you’ll be totally content to wipe stray applesauce dollops from younger sibling’s tray before moving on to scavenge for peanut butter and jelly leftovers on older sibling’s plate. You told the adults earlier that you wanted turkey and cheese for lunch, but nobody heard you. And you don’t even care.
Yep, you’re always surrounded by others. It really comes in handy when you did something naughty, because chances are, mom will never be able to figure out whose little paws decided to finger-paint the bathtub with her hot pink nail polish or unload that brand-new, family-size bag of Cheerios on the kitchen floor. You and your siblings are a gang that can’t be separated, like a pride of lions or a pack of wild hyenas, depending on the situation.
You’ve spent months trying to master your toddler’s nightly tuck-in, and you’re finally reaping the rewards with their blissful slumber. But around the age of 3, your perfected routine may start to crumble when your kiddo suddenly seems spooked by nightmares or has a fear of the dark.
At this age, a child’s imagination is rich and filled with vivid possibilities. Their thought process dovetails nicely when it relates to pretend play and dress-up games, but it can rock the house if nighttime anxiety becomes a regular pattern.
“Preschoolers tend to have a difficult time differentiating between reality and fantasy—hence the fear of monsters under the bed or the boogie man lurking in the closet,” explains Kim West, LCSW, aka “The Sleep Lady,” a child and family therapist and author of “Good Night, Sleep Tight.”
As kids move into elementary school, their nighttime worries may be based more on actual events, including fear of storms, injury, or fire, she notes.
“And sometimes children become alarmed about the outside world entering their own, which could mean being worried about burglars,” West says.
Conquering night fright can be a bit of a production, but it’s necessary in order to get back on a solid sleep track. Here are seven ways to quiet your child’s racing mind and ease nightmares:
You may already have a lamp or a plug-in down the hall, but consider letting your tot help to choose another, a special nightlight that he gets to turn on at bedtime. Encouraging a bit of ownership may ease his worries and give him peace of mind in the dark.
“Ask your child to try and open up about what’s bothering her at night and then remind her of her safety,” suggests West. Don’t minimize her fears. Acknowledge them, because they’re very real in her mind, and give her your understanding and sympathy.
Check out storybooks about kids tackling nightmares at your local library or go online to order one or two. Reading with him about characters who’ve dealt with nighttime jitters can show him that his fears can be overcome.
Many kids have a lovey—either a stuffed animal, blanket, or another soft item—that helps them get through the night. Selecting a particular toy to comfort your tot can be a nice bedtime transition. And if your child has one already, let him know he can rely on his “friend” to keep him company and help him fall asleep.
Parenting a toddler? These articles for parenting toddlers including getting them to sleep in their own bed, tips for getting them from taking their diaper off, potty training secrets, how we raise cranky toddlers, strategies for dealing with tantrums, and ideas to help keep them occupied are our most popular. We realize that raising toddlers can be a challenge.
Most kids, especially when they are toddlers, have legitimate reasons for melting down. The key as a parent is finding out what the trigger is, and avoiding it. Being mindful of these triggers and giving them consistent attention, a lot of affection, and a routine goes a long way.
If you are ready to start thinking about potty training your toddler, These tipswill help you determine if your child is ready, what might be the best method for you and your child, and in the end you’ll see that potty training isn’t as daunting a task as it may seem, if you begin prepared.
Even though keeping your toddler occupied seems like a dauntless task, there are ways to keep babies and toddlers occupied in safe and happy pursuits so that mom can get things done. Providing opportunities for them to work out their muscles and practice their motor skills is easier than you may think! Here are some great ideas to keep your toddler occupied that do not include swings, activity centers, and the TV.
I’ve made a lot of bad rules in the decade I’ve been a mom, from irrational threats (“No graham crackers in the house ever again if you eat them in the living room even one more time”) to forbidding human nature (“You may not fight with your sister”). But occasionally I’ve come up with rules that work better than I’d ever contemplated. These made-up rules have an internal logic that defies easy categorization, but their clarity and enforceability make them work. Several of them are not, technically, rules at all, but declarations of policy or fact. And they’re all easy to remember. A few personal favorites, plus those of other moms:
It might seem odd, but I don’t mind doing laundry, cleaning floors or really any kind of housework. But I do mind my kids, oblivious to the fact that my arms are full of their underwear, asking me to find their missing doll shoe or do a puzzle with them. Until recently, this was a source of great frustration, especially when our household grew to five kids when my husband, Taylor, and I became temporary foster parents for two months.
I tried to explain to my expanded brood that if they helped me fold laundry, we could do something together sooner. But they knew I’d be available anyway if I finished folding myself, so the argument wasn’t compelling.
And then one day, as my oldest foster daughter sat and watched me work, asking me favors and waiting for me to be done, I came up with a rule that takes into account two important facts about kids:
I played fact one against fact two and told her that she didn’t have to help me but couldn’t just sit and watch. She had to go elsewhere. Given a choice between being with me and folding laundryor not being with me at all, she took option one.
Why it works: I didn’t care which she chose. And it was her choice, so it gave her control even as it took it away.
You can’t just announce a rule to your husband and kids that says, “Bedtime has to go really smoothly so I can get a break at the end of the day.” It won’t happen. But if you flip the problem and make a rule about you instead of telling everyone what they have to do, it all falls neatly—and miraculously—into place.
When this occurred to me, back when my oldest was 6 and my youngest was nearly 2, I announced to Anna and Taylor that the U.S. Department of Labor had just created a new rule and I was no longer allowed to do any kind of mom jobs past 8:00 in the evening. I would gladly read books, play games, listen to stories of everyone’s day or give baths—the whole mother package—before then. Then I held firm—I acted as if it were out of my hands. Sort of like Cinderella and midnight.
Suddenly, my 6-year-old (and my husband) developed a new consciousness of time. My daughter actually rushed to get ready for bed just after dinner so that we could have lots of books and time together before I was “off.” My husband, realizing that if things dragged past 8:00 he’d have to face putting both girls to sleep himself, became more helpful. Anna’s now 11, and my hours have been extended, but the idea that I’m not endlessly available has been preserved and integrated into our family routine.
Why it works: You’re not telling anyone else what to do. The rule is for you, so yvou have only yourself to blame if it’s not enforced.
Week after week, Kaden Hansen’s menu looks like this: macaroni and cheese, cheddar-cheese slices, chicken nuggets, and plain cheese pizza. Breakfast is cold cereal with rice milk, never cow’s milk. He’ll eat a certain brand of angel-hair pasta with butter but won’t touch spaghetti. He loathes vegetables and most fruits. Salad or casserole? Not a chance. The foods on his plate must never, ever touch one another.
Preschoolers are notoriously picky, sometimes living on noodles and crackers for months at a time and rejecting just about everything with protein, fiber, vitamins, or minerals. However, Kaden (we’ve given him a pseudonym at his mom’s request) isn’t 3, he’s 11 — and he still refuses to try anything new.
“When he was little I thought I could just wait it out, but his diet hasn’t gotten any better,” says his mother, Suzanne, who lives near Portland, Oregon. “Our pediatrician doesn’t seem worried because he’s basically healthy, but it’s so frustrating. I love food, and I know that nutrition is important.”