Wednesday, November 22, 2006

My Terrible Three with Middle Child Syndrome

C.B. is three-and-a-half, seemingly the perfect age to use the "Terrible 3’s" to describe his behavior lately. (That's right; I said "Terrible 3s". Two is a breeze compared with three.) However, some may call it "Middle Child Syndrome", since he is one of the two kids in the middle of our four. Labels like these and the behaviors they imply do seem to describe C.B. at this stage of his life. And maybe labels like these make it easier on parents to explain away these behaviors. But who really wants to be labeled?

Think about it...if the label is positive, we tend to feel pressure to live up to it, which could be good. But what if we can’t? Many people then become depressed or resentful when they’re unable to live up to the expectations of the positive label. Likewise when the label is negative, like "Terrible 3's" or "Middle Child Syndrome", we often find ourselves living up to that negativity and exhibiting all the expected negative behaviors. So it doesn't seem helpful to put a label on C.B.'s behavior. What I really need is to spend more time with him, be more patient with him, and remember that "this, too, shall pass!"

I realized this morning that I have help with this in unexpected ways. When C.B. got up and came downstairs this morning, Banana walked as fast as I've seen her walk yet to get over to him. C.B. was amused by this and exclaimed, "She ran!" (I guess you could call it running.) But what happened next was even better. She went right up to him and gave him a great big hug. What a smile he had on his face! I think that hug meant more to him than anything I could have done or said this morning.

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