I have seen & heard stories about older children acting out or getting jealous of younger siblings or new babies but hadn’t actually experienced it until earlier this year. What’s interesting is that we didn’t see the behavior at home, but it was acted out at school.
My oldest son is officially 8 years older than my youngest son. When my baby arrived we really tried our best to include both of our oldest children in anything dealing with the baby. It just seemed like my “now” middle child just received the baby better. She immediately attached to the baby like he was hers and 18 months later, they are inseparable. My oldest child’s story is a little different.
Earl (the oldest) has never had a behavior problem in school. From pre-k – 2 grade we have never had any major issues. He has always received good grades and enjoyed school. Enter baby Emory in Feb. 2013 & 3rd grade for Earl. Emory was born when Earl was in 2nd grade, but we didn’t see the effect of having a new baby in our home until the next school year. I think it took time for things to actually change with us and him.
We started to see the biggest change in him the second semester of 3rd grade. He didn’t want to go to school. Although he would get good grades on test, his class work was slipping. He was having behavior problems in the class and not paying attention or following directions. He was also being teased by some students and it didn’t help that his teacher moved his seat and made him face the wall! We didn’t find that out until the end of the year!!!!!!!!!! (that’s another post)
He literally started to hate school. He was acting out. Then someone said to me, “Has anything changed in his world lately?” I stopped and thought, “OMG! I had a baby & we’ve moved!” I sat back and thought how WE (my husband and myself) had changed over the last year and how we treated him. We didn’t treat him worse but we took him being the oldest for granted. I realized that he received less and less of me and every time he looked up, I was kissing and loving on his new brother. I spent less time with him as he spent more time in front of the T.V. Our conversations were limited outside of school work because I was so into the baby. The baby this and the baby that.
The thing is, he didn’t act out at home – but he did at school. He wanted attention, plain and simple. Instead of his teacher contacting us to see if something is going on at home to see what we could do, his teacher made it worse by her actions. By the end of the year, I saw the book The 5 love languages of children and bought it immediately. (Click Image to purchase)
While reading the book, I saw so many things WE could have done better and immediately wanted to implement. I vowed to dedicating the entire summer to reconnecting with my son and learning his love language.
There are 5 Love Languages:
- Physical Touch
- Words of Affirmation
- Quality Time
- Acts of Service
Don’t take these Languages at face value, because there is a deeper definition of what they mean. It’s also possible to have more than one love language, but usually there will be a dominate. In the book, it teaches you what these are, how to recognize them in a child and what to do once you know.
I found out that my two oldest have two different love languages. My daughters are Physical Touch & Gifts. My son’s main one is Quality Time although there are two others that are very close. While reading the book, it teaches you to look out for signs and listen to your child. They will usually tell you what they want. My son said clear as day, “Mom I want more time with you. You have been gone a lot.” At the time, it went in one ear and out of the other. I thought because he was with his dad, he was fine. He wanted more Mommy time.
What Changed: As school ended and summer started, I genuinely engaged my son. I made sure I asked about every aspect of his day and had follow-up questions. I gave him all of my attention to make him know he was my focus. We did mother and son things without the other two, like bike riding, watching a show or going to an event. I made sure I loved on him just as much as I loved on the baby so there was no distinction.
My youngest son started to walk over the summer and also started following his big brother. Surprisingly, my older son takes good care of him. He now plays with him more, helps me watch him and when my older two children are home, the baby would rather be with them than us (the parents). They both love on him so much, it makes me smile to see.
School started a few weeks ago and my son still didn’t want to go. He said he needed more time. Well on the first day, I asked him how was school. He responded with a “Mom, it was GREAT!” Everyday after that for the past few weeks has been nothing but positive comments. He loves his new teacher and enjoys his class.
The funny thing is, there is a teachers assistant in the class that was also in Earl’s class last year. She told us that Earl is totally different this year. He raises his hand, answers the questions, listens and pays attention. He is a joy and that wasn’t the Earl she was used to. We said, “That was the Earl WE were used too!”
I honestly credit the book for making see myself and realized how I had changed, which hurt my son. I am glad I decided to take time to see what I could do on my end verses believing my son was just being “bad”.
I will always use this book a reference and I even learned my husband’s love language too… but that’s another post. You can get a kindle version or paperback version for around $9. Click Here to visit Amazon.