I thought that parenting only got easier with each child. Somehow, I would learn the tricks and avoid the pitfalls I had made with the previous child(ren). So, when my third child was born and the other two were fairly normal at ages 4 1/2 and 6 1/2, I thought this wouldn’t be so hard.

Boy was I wrong! I became slack. I expected the older children to cater to him since he was the baby. I hoped his behavior was just a phase. We’ll at 3 1/2, he has a mouth like a sailor (hate, b-tthead, dummie), won’t sleep without a struggle and rarely does what either of his parents ask. In general, he is a cute kid but extremely strong-willed and occasionally ill-mannered.

I began the painful process of retraining him and me. I’ve watched for triggers and noticed a few things that will help us both. 

First, his behavior will not get better when I ignore it. Yep, I have been letting minor behaviors slip in the hopes that if he gets what he wants, he’ll act better. When he was younger, this generally worked. So, I got lazy and he became indulged. His older brother, sister and parents would just give him what he wanted so he thought the world revolved around himself.  No more.

Second, he becomes “mean” when he is tired. I thought he was fairly flexible having been dragged along from a young age. But really, he needs his sleep and I need to better ensure that he receives it.

Third, keep him out of trouble. He has seemed bored with just me at home. He was used to the stimulation of having older siblings and couldn’t settle at home. Although I am not a big fan of putting kids in preschool when you are a stay-at-home mom, I recognized that he yearned to be around kids. Hence, the enrolling of him in a three-day, morning class.

What observations have you made about your child’s behavior? What are the triggers for bad behavior and how do you off-set them?

“If you bungle raising your children, I don’t think whatever else you do matters very much.”  Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis