Parenting the youngest child in the family unit poses plenty of new challenges, regardless of how many siblings may have been born before him. Often considered the rebel of the family pack, youngest kids need lots of attention and affirmation as they compete against the skills and intellect of their siblings.
About Birth Order
While many parents may not rely on birth order studies to cater to the needs or demands of their children, many family therapists believe birth order plays a significant role in child personality traits and expectations. If you take the time to learn the individual needs of every child in your family unit, you have a greater chance of raising a well-rounded and confident child who lacks the typical traits his or her birth order may represent. Parenting the youngest child requires plenty of patience and affirmation, and a bit of understanding and empathy to understand his or her challenging and at times defiant personalities.
Tips for Parenting the Youngest Child
Whether you have just two children, a trio or even more, at one point there will be someone to fill the role as the "youngest." Some children love the attention and special babying the youngest status may earn them, while others may grow frustrated with his lack of accomplishments compared to his older siblings. Keep in mind the following tips when raising the youngest child:
- Attention: Chances are good the time you begin parenting the second time around, you've become more lax on several of the worries and concerns a first-time parent faces. While your lack of worry simply implies that you have parental confidence, to her, it may appear as though your lack of worry translates to lack of care or attention. It's especially important to spend quality time with all of your children, but make sure you spend a few extra moments throughout your day checking in on your youngest to ensure her fears and concerns are being acknowledged.
- Applaud Accomplishments: No matter the activity, most last born children feel invisible in comparison to the accomplishments of their older siblings. Make sure you applaud his successes and encourage him to find his own special skills and hobbies. Every child will have his own unique traits, and it's up to the parent to nurture his interests and intellect for positive development.
- Try Not to Hand Down: While hand-me downs are a great way to recycle and reuse belongings, often the youngest child loses out on the thrill of something new. Clothing, coats, toys and bikes make their way down the family line and end up in the possession of the youngest child. To some kids, hand me down goods are one of the perks of having an older sibling, while others may despise the act of receiving used things. If you must pass down to save on the budget, ask your child which belongings are significant to her, and let her choose the things she has always coveted or admired from her older siblings. The rest can be resold or donated to charity.
- Set Boundries: As soon as the last child arrives, it seems like she is on a mission to break rules and boundries. The youngest child has her mind set on creating her own path. Often, this mindset trickles down to her later years and can be especially concerning if her lifestyle or behaviors are risky. Make sure your youngest child feels love and support at all times, and try to create firm but workable boundries within the family unit. The rebelliousness last born children possess may be linked to their own desire to gain the attention and affirmation of their older siblings. Try channeling and modifying this unique and challenging trait and put it to good use on the soccer field instead!
Plenty of Positive Traits
Last born children are just that, they are the last chance for parents to coddle their own offspring while using all the knowledge they've earned through previous parental experiences. While parenting the youngest child poses different concerns and worries, the last born child often has a charismatic personality you're bound to adore. All rebelliousness aside, the youngest born has the spirit of his youth, the drive of his elders, and the curiosity of a cat all rolled into one. If you fully embrace his own unique needs, you're sure to put all of your prior parental experience to great use as you raise a confident, personable and outgoing individual. He'll love to be the center of attention every chance he gets, and with just a bit understanding and empathy, you're bound to let him!