Sibling and Gender Relationships

Source: Thomaslife

By Bethany Lynch, The Graceful Mom

My husband grew up with an older brother. I have step-siblings but grew up mostly with a younger brother. Now my husband and I have a son and daughter.  We all have very different opinions and takes on the advantages and disadvantages to our sibling relationships. I find birth order and gender relationships very intriguing. My favorite book on this topic is The Birth Order Book: Why You Are the Way You Are by Kevin Leman, a great author for all things from discipline to potty training to spicing up your marriage. According to Dr. Leman, most comedians are the youngest children in their families, and 21 out of the first 23 astronauts on the moon were first-born children. (The other two were only children). His book is unique in that he discusses many other variables than just nominal birth order.

Although not specific to parents following the Babywise series, I find that it is all too easy for us to make excuses based on the gender of our children. We focus on schedules, independent play, even first-time obedience but we don’t always think twice about saying, “Well, he is just being a boy!” Yes, there are strong gender differences and traits. Yes, I really do think birth order and spacing can explain some of our personality traits, but the last thing I think we should do is overlook behavior predominantly because it is typical for that gender. On the other hand, I think we also have to be very careful not to define our children by their birth order nor try to treat them all the same.

Let me give you an example. My son has extremely typical traits of a first-born. Perfectionist, achiever, articulate, logical, scholarly. Add in that his primary love language is words of affirmation. Bathing the two kids together was becoming a nightmare. There were more fights the second I turned my back or sometimes before they could even climb in the tub. We came down hardest on our son…he’s the oldest, he should know better, he should treat his sister better. It turns out, she was the one picking a fight with him. She had learned we would start with him and criticize him first. We have also learned how harshly he takes criticism. Taking him aside and talking to him away from the heat of the moment is so important. It often takes 4-5 kind words of praise to undo 1 harsh phrase of criticism.

On the flip side, our daughter is quite emotional with feelings dripping off her sleeves. She cries when she is tired, when she wakes up, when she first sits down for snack, when she doesn’t like the snack choice, when you look at her funny, and so forth. It has been quite a new adventure for my husband who is still learning female nuances after 10 years of marriage. Consoling her is a fine line. There are times where I see the look in her eyes and know immediately that she just needs a hug…and to cry. There are times when the crying is so ridiculous and out of control that she needs firm love and direction to pull herself together. She is a girl and needs to be approached in a specific manner; however, we will not, nor have not, changed the way we handle temper tantrums or sour attitudes “just because she is a girl.”

It has also been fun to watch the dynamics between a sister and brother. While I am used to some of the differences in growing up with a sibling of a different gender, I was the typical first-born and my baby brother was the youngest. I still give him a hard time for all of the times I remember taking the heat for being old enough to know better when really he had gotten away with something! It is an easy trap to miss. It is a little more confusing when you have to add gender differences to the sibling order. All the same, there are some general rules that I think fall in line with the -wise mentality.

  1. Boys do need a lot of physical time to use their energy, even to wrestle. They also need to know the boundaries between appropriate hard play and out of control roughhousing. Practice, practice, practice.
  2. Boys often need more preparation to sit still and focus on topics other than their favorite subject.
  3. Boys need to learn how to treat mommies, sisters, and other girls. Have your son practice serving his sister first at supper. I fully believe boys should learn courtesy at home first.
  4. Boys also need ways to learn how to handle their anger. There is nothing like watching a boy go from zero to sixty, revved up, swinging, and looking for something to knock down. Teach your son that it is okay to be angry but he needs to find words to express that and other ways to let the steam off. Even if it comes down to giving him a pillow he can squeeze or punch, it is way better than him raging so out of control he hurts someone else, himself, or breaks something. We’ve even had to practice how to handle being hurt. His first tendency is to jump up and down, and he’s had to learn the hard way that he will hurt himself even worse.
  5. Girls do need to cry…a lot sometimes. Not all, but practicing how to gain control over emotions with daughters is usually very different than sons. I find our son to be very angry but logical if he is upset. Our daughter is just hysterical, in pieces, over something we would consider trivial. Teaching her how to regain control of herself and calm down has been a monumental task some days.
  6. Girls need to find beauty on the inside…and this absolutely has to start at home. While pretend play is excellent and extremely important, make sure she hears how beautiful she is even when she is not dressed up as a princess.
  7. Look for natural tendencies in your children, whether it is gender related or birth order related or neither. There are times I have allowed one child to stay inside and read because that is one of her most favorite activities in life. There are times I have bathed one child because the other does not find it nearly as relaxing or therapeutic. There are also times where the instruction/rule was that it was bath night–no exceptions. While our “rules” are the same, we still allow a lot of time for each child to be an individual.
  8. Things that I believe should not be exceptions because of gender are hitting, kicking, temper tantrums, screaming, rudeness. All of these seem obvious but in the actual situation make sure that you have an exit strategy already planned. By that I mean, know the planned consequence and carry it out even if you think the behavior was natural for a boy or girl in that situation.
  9. Things that I believe should be be exceptions because of birth order are always coming down harder on an older child “just because” they are older. Teach them responsibility and rules, not exceptions based on a younger age. Do not overlook younger age because “they might not understand.” As a mother of a VERY cognitively-smart but speech-delayed child, do not ever underestimate all that they might understand. Keep the rules and expectations the same even if you have to modify explanation or approach.

Bethany blogs at The Graceful Mom about life as a working mom outside of the home and adores coming home to her husband and children, ages 5 and 3.

Best of Childwise Chat: Moving to one nap a day

I’m taking time off from blogging for the holidays, so this week I’ll be sharing the best of Childwise Chat. These are the most popular posts of all time. Enjoy and have a fantastic Christmas!

Originally posted January 10, 2011

I don’t usually use this blog as a forum to give advice on naps and specific schedule items, but I see this one come up so often, I thought I would address it here. When our children drop the morning nap, it marks a shift in the child’s development. Dropping the morning nap is a big milestone in the lives of many parents of toddlers. Yet it’s almost one of the most frustrating. Many Babywise parents don’t know how to drop the nap without affecting baby’s sleep too terribly.

Here’s how the situation typically plays out. Baby is napping well and is able to overcome teething and various disruptions without too much trouble. For the most part, things have been going well for quite some time. Then suddenly, baby stops falling asleep for his afternoon nap. He’ll play in his crib for the whole nap, or he’ll go down fine but wake up after just 45 minutes. Mom gives it a day or two before deciding that something is going wrong. She knows that baby needs his afternoon nap and he seems to nap so well in the morning that she’s a little dumbfounded.

It’s true, these babies would nap a couple hours every morning if left to their own devices. But mom knows that there’s no way baby can go from late morning until bedtime without turning into a monster. The afternoon nap must be saved!

Before I give you my advice on dropping a nap, let me explain how I would not do it.

Don’t #1: Get out in the morning

Some say that the best way to preserve the afternoon nap is to cut out the morning nap entirely, cold turkey. To avoid a cranky baby in the morning, you should go out. Run errands. Take baby to story time at the library. Whatever. Just get out. It’s true, that getting out will help keep baby alert enough that he won’t get as cranky as he would at home. But still, it deprives the child of sleep.

Don’t #2: Every other day

Another approach is to allow baby to have a morning nap every other day. It’s true that this could help baby drop the morning nap, but the problem is it still deprives the child of sleep. By allowing him the nap every other day, you are depriving him of sleep and then letting him catch up on sleep on the days you allow it. His sleep is not on an even keel. The other problem with this approach is that it’s still likely that baby will not nap well in the afternoon on the days he takes a morning nap.

Don’t #3: Early bedtime

One idea to drop the nap is to let baby nap in the mornings and then do an earlier bedtime to compensate for the lack of sleep in the afternoon. Mom gradually moves the morning nap later and later while doing an early bedtime. Eventually, the morning nap becomes an afternoon nap. There are two problems with this approach. First, mom is messing with both naps and bedtime. There’s no need to mess with bedtime (if you’ll finish reading this post). Second, baby is still cranky and overtired until the transition process is complete.

My advice: Shorten the morning nap

When you’re sure that baby is ready to drop the morning nap and that the afternoon nap disruptions aren’t due to anything else (noise, teething, etc.), start shortening the morning nap. For this approach to work, it’s important to know your baby’s optimal wake time. When I did this with Lucas, his wake time was 2 hours. I realize that not all babies can go to sleep after just 2 hours, which is fine. The key is knowing what your baby’s optimal wake time is. It’s different for every child.

Before his afternoon nap disruptions, Lucas would usually nap for 1.5 hours in the morning and 2 hours in the afternoon. When I knew that nothing else was causing the problem, I started waking him up after one hour of sleep in the morning. I would allow him his usual wake time of 2 hours and then put him down for his afternoon nap. This meant that his afternoon nap started 30 minutes earlier, but it worked because he was still getting used to a shorter morning nap.

I continued allowing him a one-hour morning nap until his afternoon nap was again being disrupted in some way. I let him tell me when he was ready to shorten the nap even more. So then I started waking him up after 45 minutes. Again, I would put him down after 2 hours of wake time. Throughout the transition, I would let him sleep as long as he wanted to in the afternoon and I never messed with his bedtime.

After a few months of a 45-minute morning nap, we reduced it to 30 minutes. After a few months of that, we ended up going on vacation and it was the perfect time to drop the morning nap altogether. If we were home, I might have allowed a 20-minute catnap, but it also became apparent to me that he would have done fine without the morning nap entirely.

Bear in mind, this is not the fastest way to drop the morning nap. We started shortening the morning nap when Lucas was about 14 months old. He didn’t drop it entirely until he was almost 23 months old. Did I mind? Not in the least. Would I have minded a cranky baby all morning or afternoon? For sure. Would I have minded difficult bedtimes due to an overtired baby? Of course.

This gradual approach ensures that baby still gets the sleep he needs while allowing for an easy transition to drop the nap.

Schedule examples

To spell it out more clearly, here’s how our schedule looked during the transition.

Transition months 1-3

Morning nap: 10:00-11:00

Afternoon nap: 1:00-3:00-ish

Night sleep: 7:00pm-8:00am

Transition months 4-6

Morning nap: 10:00-10:45

Afternoon nap: 12:45-2:45-ish

Night sleep: 7:00pm-8:00am

Transition months 7-9

Morning nap: 10:00-10:30

Afternoon nap: 12:30-2:30-ish

Night sleep: 7:00pm-8:00am

You’ll recognize that the time between Lucas’ afternoon nap and bedtime got longer and longer. He handled this well. I realize, however, that some might not. The alternative is to keep the afternoon nap at the same time regardless of the child’s optimal wake time. There is something to be said for babies who are used to falling asleep at the same time every afternoon no matter how the long the morning nap was.

Finally, be sure baby is waking up at the same time every morning. No matter the method, the nap transition will not go well at all if you allow baby to sleep in every morning to compensate for a lack of sleep. The afternoon nap is where you will allow him to sleep as long as he needs.


Forgive Yourself


By Valerie Plowman,

If you are a reader of this blog, I think I can safely assume that you are a parent who is actively invested in trying to do everything “right” — right according to your own judgement and discernment. Of course, we often are faced with situations as parents where we don’t necessasrily know what “right” is in the context of our situation. We have to make a judgement call in the moment.

Because we are humans, there will invariably be times when we make the wrong call. In our 20/20 hindsight we look back and see the choice we made was not the “right” one. We should have acted differently in the situation. We should have chosen a different consequence. We should have responded a different way. We made a mistake.

This retrospective analyzing happens quite often as parents, and I find for myself it happens most often with my oldest child (seven years old). With him, I am always a first-time parent. I am always facing situations for the first time with him. Because of this, I make the most mistakes with him. I have the most “ooopps–that wasn’t the best option” moments. I think we all know what those moments are like.

And this leads me to the message of my post. Forgive yourself. Yes, you make mistakes. You need to move past them. Learn what you can, apologize if needed (it isn’t always), forgive yourself, and put it behind you. Don’t stress about it! Children are resilient. Children are incredibly forgiving. Children can and will survive the many mistakes we make as parents (now, this is of course referring to normal, everyday mistakes parents make).

Don’t let fear of mistakes paralyze you. Do what you think is best at the moment. If you find that wasn’t best, learn from it and tweak your strategy for the next time. When you make a mistake, it isn’t as though you are thinking to yourself, “Ha ha! I am going to do XYZ because that will really take things in the wrong direction!” No! You are thinking, “I am going to do XYZ because I think that is best for my child.” If you find it wasn’t, offer yourself grace and take the lesson learned, act on it, and move forward. Your child will learn from your mistakes as well — it is a great gift for your child to see that you are not perfect and that mistakes are a normal part of life. Your children will forgive you, and you should, too.

Valerie is the mother of four (7, 5, 3, and 4 months) and blogs at

The Morning Rush


Do you have kids in school? If so, you know all about the morning rush. For many, it’s the most dreaded time of day. Honestly, the morning rush was a factor in my decision to homeschool my boys. When William was in preschool, I deliberately chose to send him to the afternoon session to avoid the morning rush. And then he started full-day kindergarten. So we had a full two years to figure out our morning routine, and I can honestly say we never fell into a good groove.

If I had it to do all over again, here’s what I would do:

Get up and get showered before the kids wake up

This is a tough one since I’m such a night owl and really value my sleep. And waking up in the dark is always difficult. But what’s 30 minutes if it makes for a smooth morning? My shower is the thing that makes me feel like I can face the world. If it’s a cup of coffee or just some peace and quiet with your morning paper, take that time for yourself before the kids get up.

Figure out what wakes your child up

Our kids are like us in many ways. If we need a shower, a cup of coffee, or some alone-time with the newspaper to face the day, our kids likely need their own version of a wake-up activity. Allow your child to do whatever it is that he needs to face the day. Lucas always needs his morning snuggles. William likes to play with Legos or draw. It’s no fun if every morning is rush, rush, rush. Allow them some downtime before you walk out the door.

Get ready the night before

My kids always showered at night, and I usually packed lunches the night before, but I’m sure there’s more I could have done to get ready for the morning rush. I could have laid out their clothes, put their shoes (and socks!) by the door, had extra toothbrushes in the downstairs bathroom, made sure their coats were accessible, and made sure their backpacks were packed and by the door.

Make sure everybody gets enough sleep

Kids in elementary school should get about 10-12 hours of sleep, on average. That means, if you’re up at 6:00am, your child should be in bed no later than 8:00pm. Little kids tend to wake up early, so if you’re having to drag them out of bed, it’s likely they’re not getting enough sleep.

Make a chart

Most kids are visual. You can give them tasks orally until you’re blue in the face, and it still doesn’t get done. But if you give them a visual chart, they’ll be more likely to get all of their morning tasks done…and done quickly. I’ve used task cards for bedtime. I lay them out and they can follow them in whatever order they like. Then as they finish each one, they turn the card over. A checklist works just as well. Here’s a link to some free printable chore cards. For durability, take the file to your local office supply store to have them printed on cardstock and laminated.

Give them motivation

Let’s face it, when kids don’t want to go to school and don’t want to leave the warm, cozy house, it can be difficult to get them moving. The more they dislike school, the harder your mornings will be. There may not be much you can change about school, but you can motivate him to get moving. Put marbles in a jar for every task completed quickly, and go out for ice cream when the jar is full. Or give a penny or two for every task done. Stickers can also work well. It all depends on what excites and motivates your child. We’ve been doing pennies for school tasks, and we all love it! They are motivated to do their work, and it’s a lesson in itself since they have to count their money and understand what they can buy with it. One thing a wise teacher friend told me is that it’s important to switch up your reward system regularly. They always get stale, and a new system will create excitement.

Decide what matters most

Make sure you prioritize your morning activities. If you’re spending 30 minutes making sure your daughter’s hair is perfect but not giving your son his necessary morning snuggles, your priorities are a little off. Nobody’s going to notice if the ponytail is a little off center or if the socks don’t match. But your child will notice if you don’t feed his love language in some way every morning.

Vow not to nag

Nagging, yelling, screaming, and threatening have no place in the morning routine. And trust me, I know how easy it is to nag and yell. I have realized, however, that I can simply choose not to nag and yell. And guess what, it works! Attitude is a choice. You can choose to yell and have grumpy kids as a result. Or you can choose to be happy and have a happy start to your day. It makes a huge difference for everyone. You know the old saying, “Happy wife, happy life.” Well, I think this applies to our kids, too. “Happy mom, happy kids!”

Take a mental health day

If you’re having one of those mornings where it’s cold and blustery outside, and nobody wants to leave the house, take a mental health day! Let the kids stay home from school. Get a fire going in the fireplace, read your favorite books, crawl back into bed, eat soup on TV trays, put some cookies in the oven. Do your favorite things, and cherish that time with the kids. You can always email the teacher and ask her to send in whatever work needs to be completed.

How are your mornings? Do you have any tricks that have saved your sanity?

How High (or Low) Are Your Standards?


Where do you set the bar when it comes to your children and their behavior? How well did your kids fare during Thanksgiving dinner? Were you proud of them or did you walk away vowing to make some changes?

Deciding where to set the bar is an important exercise for any parent to undergo. Deciding on an intellectual (not gut) level what attitudes and behaviors are acceptable is the first step in parenting. You might even go so far as to write down acceptable behaviors and any future goals you have in mind for your child.

If you decide that you want your child to express gratitude to friends through acts of service, you might get him started on household chores when he’s 2. By the time he’s 8, he’ll then freely offer to unload the dishwasher when he sees that you’ve had a hard day.

By the same token, maybe you just want your kid to be a kid. You’re fine if he spends every free minute simply playing.

Personally, I probably stand between these two extremes. I have a friend who mentioned to me that her child offered to unload the dishwasher at a friend’s house. I was amazed. But then I’m also conflicted because I place a very high premium on imaginative play and think it’s so important to my kids’ developing minds and intellect. So while I do have my children do chores, I also let them play quite a bit.

This post is inspired by a recent comment I received from a stranger. Or rather, I should say that my children received this comment. It was Veterans Day, and my veteran and I took the kids out to a fairly upscale restaurant. There were other families there who were taking advantage of the partially free meal, and I won’t say I didn’t notice their kids’ behavior or the huge presence of mobile devices. At one table near us, there were two boys about Lucas’ age (5) and they each had their own iPad. As soon as they lost interest in the iPad, their behavior spun out of control, clearly unacceptable for this kind of restaurant.

Whenever we eat out, I explain to my boys that there are many other people in the restaurant who are paying good money for their meal, and they do not have the freedom of ruining that meal for those people. They must respect this fact every time we go out. Apparently, this has hit home because as a group of older people walked out of the restaurant, one of them leaned over our table and commended my children on their good behavior.

Of course, this puts a smile on my face. But my thoughts at the time bring me back to the point of this post. As this woman complimented their behavior, I felt some relief and pride, but I was also rolling my eyes a little. The fact of the matter is, at the exact moment that she complimented their behavior, we were frustrated with their manners. We didn’t see well-behaved kids. We saw kids who were eating green beans with their hands.

I realize that it’s important to step back a minute and realize that yes, they were sitting still, yes, they were sitting quietly, and yes, they were eating their vegetables without complaint. But at the same time, I cannot let go of the relatively high standards I have for my kids. I can recognize their good behavior and compliment them on it, but that doesn’t mean I should lower my expectations. If anything, their good behavior tells me that my methods are working!

So if you have high standards for your child, it’s a good idea to step back sometimes and appreciate their behavior. If you have relatively low standards, you’ll either be comfortable with the behavior you get while in public or you might even vow to raise the bar just a bit. Wherever you stand, be sure you have chosen where to set the bar. Don’t fall into an accidental parenting trap and just let the bar lie where it may.

Learn the art of hovering


Hovering over a child can be a very useful trick. But I don’t mean the helicopter parent type of hovering. In the spirit of the idea that actions speak louder than words, hovering can have a great effect on our children.

Next time you see your child misbehave or begin to cross a line, just stand near him. Let him feel your presence. Like a security guard tailing a shoplifter, just stand near him. If he knows you’re onto him, he may stop.

Say you’re on the phone and your child is supposed to be cleaning his room. Simply drift over to his room to see how it’s going. If he’s not cleaning, don’t say a word. Just stand there for a minute. If he makes eye contact with you, just raise your eyebrows and say “humph,” as in, I’m making a mental note of what’s going on here. And walk away.

If your child is doing homework, but you see him doodling instead of working, just stand behind him. If he doesn’t notice you, put your hand on the table or sit down next to him. You can look at his work. Just don’t say anything. He knows what he’s supposed to be doing. If he see that you’re there checking up on him, he’ll get back to work.

When you employ this technique, resist the urge to nag. Nagging only gives our children an excuse to complain and argue with us. If they know what they’re supposed to be doing and you hover nearby, they will get the hint.

Second-hand TV


We all know that we need to limit our children’s exposure to second-hand smoke. We also know that we are told to limit the amount of TV that they watch. But how many of you know that we are now being told to limit the amount of “second hand TV” they watch?

How often is the TV on in your home, just as background noise? Even if our kids aren’t sitting in front of the TV and watching it, simply having it on can be harmful. A recent article on says:

“Researchers who conducted a national survey of kids’ exposure to TVs droning on in the background say, ‘The amount of exposure for the average child is startling.’ How much is it, exactly? Try just under four hours a day for the typical kid.”

But, you may be asking, What’s the harm in having the TV on if the child isn’t sitting and watching? There are several reasons.

“Well, the researchers write, background TV may lower the quality of interactions between parents and kids, lower kids’ performance on tasks that require real thinking and drain kids’ attention during playtime.”

Follow the link above to read the full article. But if you do nothing else, make a concerted effort to turn the TV off, especially if nobody is watching. One compromise I’ve made with my husband during football season is that he’ll put the TV on mute. If the kids are playing in a nearby room, a TV on mute won’t affect them.

I’ve made a commitment to keeping a close eye on the amount of TV my kids watch. And now, I will start paying attention to their exposure to “second-hand TV.”


Are you on the same page?


Are you and your spouse reading from the same playbook when it comes to parenting your child? Perhaps you discussed your parenting ideals even before you married. Or did you have a child, wait for problems to creep up and then start thinking about how you want to parent? Or worse, have you still not come up with a plan?

If you’re reading this blog, my guess is that the latter doesn’t apply. But how much of a planner are you? And do you discuss it all with your spouse? Does he or she agree with you?

There’s nothing like differing parenting styles to throw a wrench into the marriage. If one parent is a super-strict, legalistic parent who doesn’t know the meaning of the word “childishness” and the other is a permissive conflict-avoider, there are bound to be a few arguments. Even if one parent provides the majority of the child care duties, the child is half of each of you, so you each have equal rights in deciding how to raise the child.

The only problem is that this is confusing to the child. Even a toddler is keen enough to realize that you don’t provide a united front. As this child ages, he’ll know to ask permissive dad for anything that strict mom might say “no” to. And while conflict-avoider dad might have an easier time saying “yes” to everything, he won’t know what to do when the child refuses to comply with a simple request. Permissiveness is all well and good — until we have to ask the child to do something he doesn’t want to do (to say nothing of the long-term ramifications).

The ultimate — and potentially most damaging — ramification of differing parenting styles is the judgment that can creep into the marriage. When two parents don’t agree on how to parent, mom or dad will start to feel protective of the child and the judgment takes over. Instead of mom and dad standing together, one parent stands with the child against the other parent. Not good.

So what do you do if you find yourself in this position? Leave the judgment on the table and talk it out. Have an open conversation where nobody’s ideas are shot down. Come up with some real-life examples of troublesome behaviors and discuss how you each parented and the results you each achieved. Then meet in the middle. It might even help to take a parenting class or two and read some parenting books. Go to a bookstore and you each choose the book that appeals to you most. Then have the other parent read that book. Glean a few ideas from each book and come up with your middle-of-the-road plan.

No matter how you approach it, being on the same parenting page is good for your marriage and for your child. Creating that page and sticking to it will be well worth the time and effort you put into it. You’ll trade conflict and judgment for peace, harmony and a compliant child!

How well do you know your child?


I’ve talked about love languages in the past. Knowing our children’s love language is so important to giving them the love they need. But we must also take it a step further to determine how best to fulfill their love language.

Recently, a friend told me that her son requires daily morning snuggles. One day, they were having a difficult homeschool day, and she realized that he hadn’t gotten his morning snuggles. She said it’s the equivalent of her having her morning coffee. Nothing earth-shattering happens if he doesn’t get his snuggles, but he feels a little off without it.

Physical touch is also Lucas’ love language. When we start our homeschool day, I have him sit on my lap during our calendar time. And I noticed just today that the child will sit on my lap any chance he gets. Whether we’re doing school work or waiting at the doctor’s office, he will sit on my lap even if there’s an empty chair nearby. I like that he seeks this physical touch from me and doesn’t simply wait for me to offer it.

William’s love language, quality time, is a little more difficult to satisfy. With Lucas, I can just have him sit on my lap as we go about our day. For William, I have to take time out of my day to give him quality time. Our bedtime reading certainly accommodates his love language. And interestingly enough, he seems to be fine with quality time from his brother as much as from his parents. They play so well together, and as long as he’s not alone, he seems fine.

If you’re still uncertain of your child’s love language (it could take a few years to figure it out) be patient but always keep an eye out. And then once you do figure it out, find real-world activities that help satisfy that love language. Whether it’s morning snuggles or a strange love language quirk, figure out what the child needs and show him love in the way he will receive it.

Beyond reason


Do you ever feel like there are times when you just can’t get through to your kids? You explain your reasoning very clearly, and they seem to understand, but it doesn’t change their actions. In your mind, your thought processes are very logical, but for some reason, you’re not getting through to them.

It’s important to realize that there are times in our kids’ lives when they are just completely beyond reason. It can be frustrating to try to figure out what to do with a child who seems completely incapable of listening to you and following your instructions. Is the child being disobedient when they are beyond reason? Maybe. But it’s more important to understand what may be causing the problem in the first place, and deal with any disobedience later.

We’ve had a few instances recently where I realized that there was just no getting through to Lucas. Just tonight, during dinner and bedtime, he was completely beyond reason. He cried. He complained. He cried about everything under the sun. He threw a bigger fit than he’s ever thrown during a timeout. And throughout all of this, I noticed that his eyes were red and he was rubbing them. The child was tired!

We had a very tiring weekend with family in town. Our routine was off. Our mealtimes were off. Roomtime didn’t happen. And they went to bed very late last night, much later than they should have. To top it off, both boys slept in our room, and Lucas kept falling off the crib mattress, was in and out of our bed, and just didn’t sleep very well. But sure enough, he was up at 6:47am, as usual.

So considering the damage was done, what was I to do with this completely inconsolable, unreasonable child?

  • I kept my chatter to a minimum. I knew I wasn’t going to get through to him, so I just kept quiet. Anything I did say just set him off.
  • I fed him his dinner. Yes, I put the food on the fork and put every bite in his mouth. I knew this was the only way he was going to eat in his current state, and my goal was to get him fed and in bed, and do it quickly.
  • I didn’t give him a shower, even though he needed it. Sleep was more important.
  • I carried him upstairs, again without a word. Yes, I carried my four-year-old. I wasn’t going to attempt to drag a tired, crying child up the stairs.
  • I shortened his bedtime routine and didn’t read to him. He was upset, as was I (we read every night without fail), but again, he just needed to go to sleep.

Even after I put him in bed, he cried and cried and came up with a bunch of excuses. After giving him water and helping him blow his nose, I said goodnight, ignored any other excuses, and waited for him to fall asleep. When it was quiet, I started to think about all that went wrong, and vowed to myself to do things differently the next time family is in town.

Good thing tomorrow is a new day!