Deacon Paul and Helen McBlain

Deacon Paul and Helen McBlain

She says:

Margie says: Our first and third children, both sons, were easy pregnancies. I had little morning sickness and their deliveries went well. They are quiet, studious boys.

During our middle child’s gestation, I was sick for all nine months. Her delivery was very difficult. This little girl never slept as a baby. She is not what I would call “bad” but I would say she requires every inch of my patience and fortitude to get through the process of a day. Her brothers try to just ignore her very active behaviors.

Presently at age 5, she is constantly demanding, “Look, Mommy … Look at this” or “Come here to see what I did.” I have read up on the middle child syndrome and recognize our daughter might have feelings of exclusion by being the middle girl with older and younger brothers. But honestly, I think she would be this demanding if she were an only child! This is just who she is!

My husband, Earl, and I are sometimes at our wit’s end trying to keep her busy and be patient with her need to be recognized. We are both drained by early afternoon with efforts to keep her busy. What else can we do?

He says: 

Earl says: Our little girl is very precious to me. I often see myself as a child in her unending energy! She reminds me of how I was as a kid.

I love the boys and enjoy playing ball with them and bringing them on camping trips. I try to bring them more into a man’s world, as they both like school and books. To date I have not brought our daughter along mainly because she can be so disruptive. I suppose I should consider taking her along with us on our next camping outing which we do spring and fall.

I have to confess I often will let Margie be the one to take over when our daughter gets demanding and starts to act out in a negative way. Margie seems to be able to handle her better than I would. I have less patience, but I also realize I need to contribute to the disciplining more.

With the boys, who are very cooperative, there are fewer times when I need to resort to disciplining. Margie and I have decided to use natural consequences for discipline. Margie seems to come up with better consequences than I can. Her consequences “fit the crime” better than my ideas.

I confess to letting Margie handle our little girl more than I do, but even I am drained from the constant seeking of attention and coming up with ideas to keep her busy.

Margie and I have had several “tense” conversations over our handling of this “little darling” of ours, and I would not like to see this affect our marriage relationship. Already, I dread what the teenage years will be like with her.

I would appreciate any ideas that might help us.

What do they do?

No parent wants to favor one child over another, but when a really active child exists in a family, more time and effort can be spent on that child. Such an effort seems to be draining both Earl and Margie physically and emotionally. At this little girl’s age, it is natural for little ones to seek their parents’ attention and affirmation.

Also, check with your children’s doctor to see if a recommendation can be made for a clinic that can test your daughter for possible behavioral disorders that can be corrected. But be careful of starting her on a lifetime of medication.

It is important to set limits for your daughter. Every child needs boundaries, especially hyperactive kids. Granted, they will push those boundaries every single time. You still must remain firm. However, make sure that the limits you set are for the very most important things. Don’t major on minor deals. Don’t set a limit that a hyperactive child can never successfully follow. For example, expecting a child to sit still in a chair for an hour is likely not achievable.

One way to relieve the parents is to have the child go to preschool so her world can be widened. A good preschool will provide more structure and classroom discipline and teach letters and numbers … and allow Mom to have a few hours of peace.

Praising all good things that this little girl does, no matter how small the task or deed, will be important to bringing her to positive behaviors.

When this little girl is in school full time she will develop new and separate friends, depending less on Mom and Dad to fill in the “to do” task list. She may never grow out of the determination or need for attention, but she will be able to bring her energy and enthusiasm to other venues as she grows older.

Often with a child like this 5 year old, having a pet in the house will allow her to redirect her playfulness to the pet. A dog that is tolerant of her energy or a cat that welcomes interaction would be a direct outlet for this little one. Giving her the responsibility of assisting with feeding or grooming the dog will make her feel important and needed. This may reduce any feeling of exclusion often felt by middle children (although Margie may be very correct in believing that this child would be this way no matter what her birth order).

She may just possess all that energy and enthusiasm naturally, rather than purposely trying to be heard or get noticed. Involving little girls in dancing or soccer or softball or swimming would also consume some of that need to release energy.

The boys in this family do not appear to be too much perturbed by their sister’s demands. They have each other and seem to be less bent on receiving parental affirmation. Since we do not know their ages, it would seem that even if they are a few years apart, they appear to have a good fit, both sharing a like for scholastics and going camping with Dad being special for them.

Dad might consider bringing Margie and their daughter to their next camping trip. That would make it a family affair and Dad would feel less alone if Margie came along.

Spending individual time with each child in a large family is always a challenge. Having family excursions is always important to family bonding, no matter what the differences in individual personalities. A family camping trip might just be the ticket to helping this child be more involved in activities in which the whole family participates.

Last, but not least, keeping her development in prayer is so important.

Pray for Jesus to help you as you minister to all of your children.

Pray when your daughter is driving you batty.

Pray for God to help you see beyond the wiggles and loud and constant motion and to see the child that Jesus died for.

“Have no anxiety at all, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, make your requests known to God. Then, the peace of God, that surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4: 6-7).