Wednesday, June 15, 2011

The First Born Child

This will be short and sweet.  I need some encouragement, so here I go.

Our first born is a leader.  Our first born likes to be in charge.  Some days, if all the little children aren't following her around - doing what she says - she's not happy.

How do I not squish her gifts and teach her to be respectful at the same time?

I believe that it's ok to be a leader.  I am a leader - we need leaders!  I believe it's ok to be in charge.  I like to be in charge - we need strong people to take charge.  I believe it's ok to know what you want and to go for it.

But, I don't believe it's ok to be a whiny baby if you don't get your way when you are 7 disrespectful.

This is what I'm doing/saying:
"Sophie, I want to hear your voice and why you're upset." pause... and allow her to share.

"You need to be respectful and not yell at others or you may go to your room.  You may join us when you're ready to be nice."

"If you treat your friends that way, you won't have any friends left."  Yes, I really do say that.  I believe that's a natural consequence, and that's big in our home.

The above strategies work very well, and I'm pretty unemotional with her these days, but I don't want to just accept it and move on.  I want to guide her to be the leader God created her to be, but she needs to lead with grace and compassion.

As I talk through it with others and even write it at this moment, it doesn't sound like that big of a deal - but, seriously, she's pretty controlling and in the moment it appears to be a bit disrespectful and inappropriate to me, so I want to nip it and guide her young.

Am I making any sense?  :)

Have you experienced these behaviors with your first born children?  Or any children?  What has worked for you?

I'm writing to ask for some encouragement, guidance and wisdom.

Oh, please do share!

(Background:  We had a playdate this morning with 2 other girls ages 3 and 6, so my frustration is a result of that experience, I believe.  Now, we really do love playdates, and I believe they're great learning experiences.  However, the behaviors listed above are more extreme in a larger group of children.  She's gotten to a pretty peaceful place in our routine.)


  1. Hi Myah,

    Sorry for these struggles! My "go to" for most behavior issues is empathy. I think, at least in adults, that need for control (not leadership, but control) stems from an underlying anxiety. I really believe there are "big" emotions motivating most children's behavior. Have you tried an empathetic discussion such as...

    "You really want them to follow your instruction right now. Are you feeling something bad will happen if they don't?"

    Have you read Discipline without Distress? I like it bc it gives specific examples for each age group. It helped immensely when my two yo hit the baby (while she was nursing!). I'm wondering if there might be any wisdom in it that could help.


  2. Steph, thank you for sharing! I have not read or heard of that book. Thank you for recommending it - I will check it out. Actually, empathy works wonders with my children! I say a lot, "you seem frustrated" or "you seem upset, what's going on? can I help?" But, I believe Sophie wants me to FIX IT and not just help her out for a moment. I think I need to dig deeper with her and then give her the proper tools that will help get through situations when she's not in control and SHE can fix it. :) Again, thank you for the encouragement! It really helped!

  3. We are in the same place... Hard now that summer is here and they feel the need to lead kids who have been fine all year while she was in school! I am okay with the leader personality too, but there can be a fine line between being a leader and being bossy. I have found if I stay within ear shot I can interject to her at appropriate times before things escalate. (usually...) I point out that what is going on and ask her if she would like it is the roles were reversed, explain that not everyone wants to play exactly how she tells them, and that they are indeed okay without her instruction. I see it as not fair to the other kids if I let if go on, that it squashes their creativity and free play time. It's exhausting...but we're making respectful adults! One day at a time... -Jen

  4. yes, Jen... 1 day at a time, 1 day at a time. :) THANK YOU for the encouragement!

  5. Thanks for sharing your story. Alex is going through a lot of this, but his dynamic is so different being so much older than both his siblings and moving between 2 homes. I need to find some good step-parenting books!

    Regardless, it's nice to know others are going through the same thing.


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