I have to admit, I made several mistakes with my firstborn I am hoping not to make with my second child. My husband and I are completely guilty of showering our oldest with everything, absolutely everything… and it took having a second child to realize some of the damage we did.
I wouldn’t say we coddled our oldest, but we definitely spoiled her. Any bump or bruise she got, we were there tending to her; as a baby, we responded to her every cry allowing her to nap on our shoulders or in our laps versus her crib (way past the recommended 6-month mark); and we never made time for ourselves. We gave her everything we had and more because she changed our world, just by her existence. Our love for her was so strong. We would often fight over who would get to hold her, tend to her when she cried, heal her wounds. We didn’t know we were doing any harm. We were simply trying to be the best we could for her.
When she cried at night, I would lay on the floor next to her crib to help her back to sleep. If that didn’t work, I would hold her in my arms in the rocking chair. When she was old enough she then made her way into our bed, flailing body limbs and all. I am surprised I never woke with a black eye. I didn’t sleep real good the first 3 years of her life.
If she fussed at mealtime, we would put The Wiggles on the laptop to keep her interested. To sit idle in her highchair while eating was generally a struggle for her unless there was another form of stimulation.
She didn’t receive any form of discipline until about age 2. We didn’t think she’d understand if she did something wrong any younger than that. And it tore us apart when we did have to discipline her.
Any toy she saw in the store she wanted – she got. Unless of course, it was too pricey. Most times, it was a doll or Barbie. She never left a store empty-handed.
Her little world changed when mama got pregnant with her sister. I could no longer lie in her bed, on her Ikea mattress a couple of hours a night, to help her fall asleep. She had to learn to fall asleep on her own. I couldn’t get down on the floor with her anymore and play barbies like I had before. My belly was growing and sitting on the couch was it for me. She would whine about it, she preferred to have me sit on the floor next to her. But, my body just wouldn’t allow it. Small changes started to develop. I started to say no to her a lot more often. And the whining became more apparent.
Then her sister was born. All hell broke loose. The snippets of behavior we had witnessed only intensified when her sister started to get our attention. I breastfed, and I’m sure it appeared the baby was always with mama. And she was, especially in the beginning. The change was hard on her. It was hard for us; she had grown more difficult. It didn’t help she was in the midst of being a threenager at the time.
She is 4 1/2 now, her sister 1. She has always been independent in doing certain things, like getting dressed or putting her shoes on, but by God, if she gets a boo boo, is hungry, or tired. Holy crap, look out. Often times she is more work than her baby sister. It has taken a while for her to adapt to the changes of having a sibling to share almost everything with. She was always used to being first, being tended to immediately. She is still learning that our world doesn’t just revolve around her (yes, she still has her diva moments).
Our parenting style has changed with her sister. We let her fall more, cry more, wait more. We don’t give in to her every need. We are more strict with her, even though she is 1-years-old when she is doing something she shouldn’t that could hurt her. We have given her the same amount of love, just with a more parent-led approach.