After the birth, expect the first 6 to 8 weeks to be particularly demanding. You'll be trying to get your infant on a feeding and sleeping schedule while handling your older child's needs. One positive change that a second child brings is an increased confidence in your own abilities, knowledge, and experience.
The things that seemed so difficult with your first child — breastfeeding, changing diapers, handling illness — will seem like second nature now instead of a crisis. Bringing home a new baby will affect you in many ways — some physically and others emotionally. Physically , you are likely to be sore and very tired after delivery , particularly if you had a difficult birth or C-section. This makes late-night feeding sessions tough, especially if you have decided to breastfeed.
Emotionally , don't be surprised if you feel concerned about bonding with your baby. You might worry about whether you'll have just as much love for your new arrival as you do for your older child. Are you feeling a little sad? The release of hormones is responsible for the physical changes and, in boys, increased levels of testosterone can contribute to greater anger and aggression.
You say your boy looks quite young, and maybe this is affecting his confidence and self-esteem.
Birth of a Second Child
Brain development can also, in part, explain typical adolescent behaviour. Research has shown that during this period the parts of the brain associated with impulsivity, novelty-seeking, emotionality and self-consciousness are in overdrive while the areas that direct self-control and rational thought are still under construction.
Sleep, or lack of sleep, is also a major issue in adolescents. With regard to exercise, you say he is with his friends all day, but what is he up to? Too little or too much exercise may affect his mood. Another issue to consider is the sometimes daunting prospect of the move to secondary school and the natural anxieties and worries that can come with this. Adolescents do not generally have the self-control to impose their own boundaries on screen time, so parents should help with this. The aim should always be to promote and reward positive behaviour rather than using sanctions, but you generally need something in your back pocket with a challenging teenager.
Set out clearly in advance what will happen if he hits his siblings or pushes you in future; a specific time-limited removal of screen time for 24 hours might be appropriate. If he argues, it goes up to 48 hours. If he refuses to hand them over, stay calm and wait for an opportunity to take them for the agreed time.
Hand them back only when the time is up. Perhaps it's about the new baby that's on the way?
Emotions and typical development
Are you worried that I won't have as much time for you once the baby arrives? Most children experience normal childhood fears such as fear of the dark, monsters or robbers. While they may be normal, they can also be deeply inhibiting and can set them on edge throughout the day. Rather than remaining calm and regulated, your child might act out with anger. Helping him find coping mechanisms to gradually face these fears is key in helping children overcome their fear and not be controlled by it.
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What to say: "I do not like being yelled at. I can see you're feeling pretty angry right now. Has this got something to do with the questions you were asking me about robbers before? I know there are none, and I want you to feel sure, too. Would you like for us to go through the house with a flashlight so you can feel satisfied there are no robbers here? If children are watching violent TV shows or have neighbors, friends or cousins who are wild, destructive or disrespectful—they may well try on this behavior. We all unwittingly, imitate what we see around us. When I've watched too much Downton Abbey, for example, my accent skews far posher than usual.
So if your neighbor has been reciting a foul-mouthed rap song to your daughter this morning in the yard, you can expect some of that to come through. What to say: "Hmmm, using those words is not how we speak in our home. I know you might hear other people using that language but being respectful is very important to our family. I know this one bites. But when we've been losing our cool, yelling, punishing, threatening, it's safe to assume our children will mirror that behavior right back at us. So when my son says: "How dare you? What to say: "I know I've been yelling and raising my voice.
I'm sorry. It's important that we all speak kindly and gently to each other, including me. Can we start over? Perhaps she's angry you didn't let her finish her game this morning, or that you forgot to dry her pink tutu in time for her playdate, or that you said no to a final helping of ice cream, or that you co-sleep with the baby and not with her, or that her teacher didn't give her a warm smile that day, or that her favorite doll's leg broke….
The point is, children have endless frustrations throughout their day—some of which are fleeting and others that are substantial.
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So when she purposely draws on your favorite cushion, she's expressing just how angry she is. The key is to validate their anger and to empathize so as to allow them to move through the anger and reach the softer emotion beneath is: sadness or fear. Teach your child to express their anger through words, songs, painting… We love to sing the mad song below and eventually break into giggles. The healing comes when the angry feelings are expressed and allowed by you—even if the behavior is not.
What to say: "Yikes. I know you know that cushions are not for drawing on. And I can see from your face how mad you are right now! Being mad is just fine, but ruining our furniture is not. Would you like to stamp your feet and sing a mad song? Let's do it! Repeat after me! When children hit developmental stages they haven't quite mastered yet, they can feel deep frustration that they often need to act out. Consider the baby who's trying to take their first steps and keeps falling.
24 reasons children act out—and how to respond
Or the toddler who desperately wants to feed herself but can't manipulate her fingers just so yet. Or the preschooler who can't write their name legibly despite their best efforts. Rather than politely saying, "I'm finding it difficult to master this skill which arouses deep frustration in me," he swats his baby brother on the head.
What to say: "I can't let you hit! I'm going to hold your hands until you can use them safely… I know you're so frustrated, my love. It's so hard to try something so many times and not manage yet, right? It's almost taboo for children to be sad, because culturally we like kids to be happy and to make those around them happy.
But if a child experiences a loss or that's their temperamental disposition, they may feel deep sadness. They may be sad about things we expect them to be happy about such as a new sibling or graduating kindergarten. So she drags her feet just when you're rushing to get out the door. What to say: "Sweetheart, your face seems sad. I see that! Would you like to talk to me about it? We must leave the house right now, but we will have plenty of time for me to listen in the car.
Let me help you with your shoes and let's hold hands to the car, ok? Often what we perceive as acting out is really just exploration. Children are infinitely curious and learn through hands on, sensory experience. They need to touch, climb, throw, push, pull, spin things. So if your son just dumped all of the clean, folded laundry down the stairs, that may be his misguided curiosity at play. What to say: "Oh no! That laundry is clean, so it's not for throwing.
I will put it on the bed next time. But I can see you want to throw things! Let me pass you this basket of teddy bears and you can throw away. Sometimes kids simply don't realize something isn't allowed. Even though it was painfully obvious to you or perhaps because of this you never made it clear to them. So if your daughter just sprayed shaving cream all over the bathroom, she may have thought this was your plan all along.
Why else would you leave the shaving cream out? What to say: "Whoops! Shaving cream is not for playing with! Silly me. I should have left it in the cupboard. Next time please do not use this as a game. Let's clean up. I'll grab the mop. Do you want to spray or wipe?
Setting limits is important and sometimes kids do need to simply "do as we say" without further explanation. But those instances are rare.
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For the most part, we'll garner far more collaboration rather than blind obedience when children understand our reasoning behind the limits. Sometimes if we've too often failed to provide the logic, children may be moved to rebel. If they feel the rules don't make sense, they may go ahead and grab the chocolate despite your repeated assertions that's not allowed. W hat to say: "Sam, I was very clear in asking you not to eat this chocolate and I'm disappointed that you have anyway. The reason I asked you not to was because this is for a gift for Marcy, it was not for us! I should have explained that, but I do expect you to honor my requests even when you don't understand them.
We'll have to go and buy some more chocolate to replace this one. Let's get your money jar and you can contribute to the purchase. In a home that's run like a tight ship with a lot of control and fear-based parenting, many children will act out. Under the pressures of high expectations and low support, children begin to feel like there's "nothing to lose. That's one reason she why she may sneak around, lie or rebel.
Lying is a normal developmental stage in children around the age of 5, but it can also be the sign of too much parental control—such as if she's afraid you'll come down on her like a ton of bricks, so she doesn't want to share the truth. What to say: "Honey, it seems you've lied to me. It's really important that we have integrity and an honest, open relationship in our home. Were you afraid that I would be very angry or punish you if you were honest? When we've been confused about a limit ourselves or unclear in setting them, children will push back and act out.
They've received the message from us that this is a "free for all" or an "undefined territory" and is up for grabs. So if you sometimes let them use the iPad first thing in the morning and sometimes don't, then you can expect them to try their luck. What to say: "I'm sorry, I can see the confusion here is my fault as I've been unclear about the rules about the iPad in the morning.
Let's have a family meeting and discuss when and how we use it and who's responsible for charging it. We can all contribute ideas and agree on what to do when someone breaks these rules. Then we'll all sign it and hang up the rules for all to see. Many children have sensitivities that can go undetected but manifest in grumpy behavior.
Food intolerances such as a sensitivity to dairy or gluten can lead to fussy, testy children who appear to be acting out. A child who is sensorily sensitive to labels in their shirt, tight socks or too much noise can be more likely to tantrum, shut down, make demands or yell rudely. What to say: "I can see you're uncomfortable.
Yelling like that hurst my ears. Can you help me figure out what's bothering you? And then I can adjust it for you. Perhaps it's too noisy in here?
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Let's try going outside. For most families a certain measure of predictability breeds security. And security helps children us all to regulate. If a child is picked up by a different adult each day, has dinner at a different time each day, has a bedtime at a different time each day—you get the picture—they're likely to feel unsafe or unsure of what comes next.
When limits are inconsistent, too, then they're really not sure where they stand. So when she becomes impossible at bedtime, demanding yet another drink, book or trip to the bathroom, this may actually be a plea for more predictability in her life. What to say: "It's really time to say goodnight now my love. We're done with the books. Let's talk about exactly what's happening tomorrow, okay? In the morning you'll wake up and then daddy will give you breakfast Just like all people, if children are under too much stress they will absolutely act out or self damage, which is far worse.
Unfortunately, today, children are under a lot of unnecessary stress to perform academically from the youngest of ages.