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How I Deal With Tantrums: First Child vs. Second Child

Photograph by Getty Images/PhotoAlto

It’s been a running joke among families for years—second-born children get away with so much more than their older siblings. My older sister and I are in our 30s and she still complains to our parents about how much harder she had it growing up. She recounts stories of movies she wasn’t allowed to watch or times she got in trouble for seemingly small infractions. Meanwhile, I got away with murder, in her eyes.

As the younger sister I would roll my eyes and dismiss her claims, but now that I’m a mother of two I’m definitely seeing a pattern here. I try to be fair, but let’s be real, second-born kids do have it somewhat easier. I mean, who has the time to get all worked up about every tantrum? I certainly don’t. It’s not really that the second-born kid has it easier, it’s just that we parents learn not to sweat the small stuff.

RELATED: Why You Should Have That Second Child

Here are just a few examples:

First Child Doesn’t Want to Get in Car Seat: Speak sternly and try to reason with child. Cry and beg and plead, look around and die of embarrassment as other parents judge you for your kid being stubborn and unreasonable.

Second Child Doesn’t Want to Get in Car Seat: Sit in the car checking social media until your kid finally decides to climb into their seat so you can move the car. If you’re in a rush, just take the kid out of the car and start to drive away so they get the picture that you will leave without them (even if you really won’t.) Buy them a cake pop to ease your conscience and hope they’re not scarred for life.

Second Child Refuses to Eat Dinner: Drop a bowl of goldfish in front of them and call it a night.

First Child Refuses to Eat Dinner: Sit at the table for hours as you explain that other kids don’t even have food to eat. Send them to time out, bring them back to the table, beg them to eat one bite, just one bite. Applaud and cheer after they take one bite and cry when they spit it out. Back to time out. Repeat the cycle until most of the food is gone or it’s time for bed.

Second Child Refuses to Eat Dinner: Drop a bowl of goldfish in front of them and call it a night.

First Child Throws a Fit at the Grocery Store: Threaten to leave the store if they don’t stop. When they don’t stop leave the the cart full of groceries and take them back to the car to discipline them. Feel mortified that everyone watched you drag your screaming child out of the store,

Second Child Throws a Fit at the Grocery Store: Keep on shopping as they scream their way through each aisle of the store. Hey, your family needs food and by now you’ve learned to tune out the screaming.

RELATED: 7 Things Your Second Baby Will Do Faster Than Your First

First Child Wants to Keep Watching TV: Give a 10-minute warning, give a 5-minute warning, give a 1-minute warning. Tell your little sweetie time is up and we have to turn the TV off now. Try to distract them with books, puzzles, snacks, whatever! Discipline them when they don’t listen.

Second Child Wants to Keep Watching TV: Just turn the damn thing off and when they throw a fit, ignore them. They’ll get over it. If the tantrum lasts too long maybe let them watch just one more show… it won’t hurt and you’ll have peace and quiet again. You tried.

First Child Doesn’t Want to Go to Bed: Spend hours explaining the importance of a good night’s rest. Sit outside their bedroom door to send them back to bed each time they try to get out.

Second Child Doesn’t Want to Go to Bed: Whatever, man. I’m tired and going to sleep, you do what you want, just don’t break anything. See ya tomorrow.

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