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Second child syndrome

On my first mother’s day as a mum of two, I wanted to reflect on the phenomenon commonly known as second child syndrome. 

I’m not talking about the drivel you might read in the Daily Fail (and we all know my thoughts on that newspaper) about the second child ripping the family apart by their very existence. 

Far from it. I’m talking about the second child ripping EVERYTHING apart in blind, unadulterated rage. 

We all know that the second child get’s less attention. It stands to reason that with a demanding toddler on the loose, a new mum won’t be cooing over her second baby in quite the same way that she did with the first. 

There is also the fact that by the time number two comes along, us mums have convinced ourselves that we know what we’re doing. So we’re much more relaxed about the whole thing. 

And it seems that all these factors combine to make child number two – well, angry. 

Not long after Lia was born, she started to growl when she wasn’t getting her own way. I was warned back then by some friends that the second child seems to have a bit more of a temper. 

But when all was going smoothly, Lia was so calm and chilled out that I stupidly thought that she would be different. 

How wrong I was. 

Lia is such a stroppy little madam that Libby, who is currently well into the terrible two’s, can only dream of the sort of tantrums that Lia comes up with. 

In fact, Libby is often on the receiving end of Lia’s temper. Libby is always trying to cuddle Lia and genuinely believes Lia’s scratching, biting and pulling her hair is just an unfortunate accident. 

 And yet when everyone is complying with her every whim, Lia is immaculately behaved, loving and cuddly. But if we dare to defy her, there is hell to pay. 

Take this evening as an example. Lia was already rather unhappy because she wasn’t allowed to play with Libby’s glasses. 

She cheered up notably when I stopped work to go and feed her, giving me a nice smile and giggling when I handed over her favourite cuddly toy. 

I then took her into the bedroom to feed her and popped her onto the bed while I took my jumper off. 

I’ve seen less convincing performances from actresses playing Shakespeare’s Juliet when she finds Romeo dead. 

Lia collapsed head first onto the bed, wailing with arms splayed, resting her head on my knee. After the split second it took me to take my jumper off, I picked her up and the smiling and giggling resumed. 

Like Libby, Lia behaves perfectly when we’re out. People come up to me and ask if she’s always this chilled out, remarking on how good she is. 

I have to admit, I lie. Who wants to admit that their beautiful, angelic, well behaved baby is actually the devil in disguise?

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  1. March 15, 2015 / 11:14 pm

    Great post!! I completely agree. I have exactly the same with James even when he was younger it was obvious that he was a child in his own rights (I’ve put that politely) he’s been in his terrible 2s they kindly continued the are you seriously joking why are you doing this 3s (I think I should get the rights to that)
    My biggest issue is the regression of William. I’ll warm you now just in case. William had the way about him that I thought the terrible 2s were bad. Oh no. I was wrong. What’s worse though is that he grew out of it. But since James hit the 2s and subsequently the 3s Wills behaviour has regressed back slightly to the are you seriously joking why are you doing this 3s. I personally blame James. I love him dearly but I worked too hard to get William out of that stage to allow him to behave like that again and think it’s ok.

    I say this not to scare you but to pre warn you if I can! It could just be a bit thing as well. So you have hope.

    Like you though they are 90% of the time better well behaved outside than in and I prefer it that way. Although if this mornings example of parenting at the packed mothers day service was any example then I might just regret making that statement so openly. (Absolute disgrace)

    The downside is though a well behave child and baby out does make you look like an over dramatic mum when you admit to hard times. Personally I think your girls look like angels. 🙂

    • March 15, 2015 / 11:18 pm

      Haha thank you Martyn, I know they do look like angels, that’s the problem 😉 And I totally get what you mean about the regression. Lia has taught Libby everything she knows about tantrums. When Libby has a strop, she even mimics the way Lia cries. Libby also goes to drama classes now, but none of that compares to the method acting she’s learning from Lia the drama queen!!

  2. March 15, 2015 / 11:16 pm

    Oh and I don’t read the mail. What are the saying about it so I can have an angry at some point.

    • March 15, 2015 / 11:21 pm

      Oh it’s just some tripe about how so many marriages fall apart when the second child comes along. They seem to blame the poor newborn for wrecking people’s marriages, as usual completely failing to recognise the fact that if people have a strong relationship, they will stay together, if they don’t then they’re often better off apart. I haven’t shared the link to the post because I’ve already lowered myself to sharing one link to their dismal attempt at journalism this week, I refuse to be dragged in again 😉

  3. March 16, 2015 / 7:34 am

    I can see this happening with mine! At the moment, the first born is the angry attention seeking playing up type…but I have two friends with a similar age gap in their kids (about 1-2years) and once that second born gets a bit mobile they just go crazy. Temper, attention seeking, throwing shit everywhere (not literally shit, but ok sure that can happen too). And I am a second born…and I have always had a temper. Although I believe it stems from my sister always getting away with things and trying to get one over on me (She was a manipulative child!)so the only way was to have a dispoportional rage attack on her back! We like each other now…30 years on with our own kids, so it won’t last…

    • March 16, 2015 / 7:40 am

      Haha reassuring to know that it’ll only be 30 years before they get along 😉 I was the first born and my mum’s only child although my dad has 5 including me. Lia definitely gets her personality from me though so it’s my fault really 😉

  4. Sarah MumofThree World
    March 16, 2015 / 9:21 am

    Eek! We’ve always had the opposite here – my younger son was a delight from the moment he was born – relaxed, happy and well behaved. We thought that might change when he became a middle child, because they’re notoriously difficult, but he’s remained a delight all his life. My eldest has always been the one to challenge and push the boundaries and was hard work as a baby. Needles to say, being a teenager hasn’t improved his behaviour.

    • March 16, 2015 / 9:27 am

      Oh that’s really interesting! Actually I am fully aware that Lia’s stroppy side comes from me, it just didn’t come out in Libby, I think Libby follows her dad in personality and poor Lia follows me 😉

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