I need some help (seriously!)

We all know that all kids are different… even if you don’t have kids, you were one and know — you weren’t the same as all of the other kids. Some are loud, some are artistic, some are klutzy… etc.

My kids, like everyone else’s, exemplify this.

And I am now struggling because of it…

Abigael, my firstborn, just turned 6. She is smart as a whip and very artistic. She “gets” things. She started kindergarten and tested at almost 2nd grade level. She taught herself how to read (and loves to read). She never drew “spider” looking people (you know, the people every kid draws that are a circle with squiggly legs coming out all around). When she was 25 months old she was drawing people with detail… fancy hair, clothes, hands, shoes. And they looked like them! The things she grasps never ceases to amaze me. She has also always been content. Laid back, and even a little absent-minded. She wants to be an artist-ballerina-baker when she grows up.

Quinn, my firstborn son and middle child, is 3 (4, the end of January). He has always been my sensitive child. The one who wants to snuggle. Who gets his feelings hurt easily. The one that wants to please. He was super laid-back until he turned 3. Since then though, *whew*…He is right on cue, large and small motor skills-wise. Loves to help me. Adores his daddy. Wants to be a cowboy when he grows up.

Seamus, my baby, just turned 1. He is into everything, already trying to climb up on stuff, loves throwing his food on the floor (neither of my other two did any of those things). He’s my handful. Happy as can be. But when he is mad (which is very rare), watch out — temper.


Are you wondering what my point is yet?

I’m really struggling with my middle child… My husband and I sat up late last night talking about him and what to do… (we ended up bringing him into our bed, just so we could snuggle him, after a rough day of it…)

And we are at a loss.

It feels like we ride him all…of…the…time!

It seems like I have to repeat EVERYTHING 500 and 50 million times.

It’s like we are first time parents again. Abigael was a breeze… Bug is not. My concern is that he will get lost between the other two, and that his spirit will suffer.

We need to some help!

So, I am asking you, my sweet blogging friends, for any advice, or resources that have worked for you. It’s hard to be specific, because frankly, my brain is fried. (If you need more info in order to answer, please ask in comments and I will comment on it or update this post.)

I have read: Bringing Up Boys (Dobson) and Grace-Based Parenting (Kimmel), Creative Correction (Lisa Welchel — though my copy is in Pennsylvania, so I can’t refer to it…)

Seriously, EVERYONE who reads this, come out of hiding and give me your best nuggets of parental wisdom!

Thank you, in advance. (cause at the rate I’m going now, I may not make it another day!!! ;-)



  1. http://Big%20Mama says

    Well, I wish I had some wise words for you, but since I am struggling with the same thing I’m probably no help.

    The Strong Willed Child by Dr. Dobson really gave me some good suggestions and I’m about to read Shepherding a Child’s Heart on a friend’s recommendation.

    And your family is just beautiful! What a great picture. Hang in there.

  2. http://alejandro says

    Surfing on the net i found your blog. My name is Alejandro and I’m from Dominican Republic (the island between Cuba and Puerto Rico).
    I don’t have any kids yet but I hope you find some ideas on this site:


    My blog is called “Alma de goma”. I borrowed the name from the great Beatles album “Rubber Soul”. I put on it many curiosities and small thoughts i found on the net and everywhere. Sorry! my blog is in spanish.

    Many blessings to your family.

  3. http://~Telah says

    Hi. I have been reading your blog for some time now. We live in North Alabama not too far from Nashville. Anyway, I too have a daughter who is the oldest and then 2 younger sons. My middle son will be 4 at the end of this month. He has been our “challenge” as well. His difficult time was mainly when I was pregnant with #3. I often cried because I couldn’t understand how come he had to be so much harder than my daughter was and I decided that I was doomed because God was giving me another boy to add to it. But, with prayer, lots of patience and lots of discipline and consistency with the discipline, we got through it. He is still challenging, don’t get me wrong, but I feel like I can handle it better now. And it may have been a change of my mind added to all the above for me to get to this point, but whatever it was, I’m happier now and feel a lot more in control. And I need that because my youngest is now 18 months old and is following right behind his older brother! LOL…I guess it’s all in a day’s work. Now, we are working on controlling his fits when things don’t go his way. I guess we all have our “challenges” with raising our children. What you are dealing with today, you can know that someone out there has already been there and now are dealing with something totally new. I believe that with God’s help, we can get through it. Someone once told me that they wished children came with instruction manuals…well, they do…it’s the Bible. Good luck to you!

  4. http://Becky says

    I wish I knew what to tell you. I wish you the best of luck and will pray for your family. By the way, your family is beautiful!

  5. http://Linda%20C says

    New reader here–Mostly, listen to your gut instinct about him. You’ll sense when his needs are legitimate and when he’s pushing buttons. Each of you could have some alone time with him without making a big deal out of it. I don’t like it when parents say, “OK, it’s BOBBY’S time with Daddy now,” etc., because it makes the kid feel like that is the ultimate goal (sole attention) which he may not be able to have very often, and makes the others jealous in the moment, etc. Just do it nonchalantly. Does he have a few friends his own age that he can have some outside stimulation with? My strong-willed child is now 20. When she went off to college last year, I realized I had fought a lot of battles that really didn’t need to be fought (keeping a room spotless, etc.) I’m not saying give in to every whim, but sometimes it makes them feel heard and understood when you save the drama for things that really matter. Finally, try to be consistent with him, no matter how tired you are. He will learn your breaking point and go there every time if you are inconsistent. I don’t intend to make your sweet child sound impossible; obviously none of us readers can know him or you intimately, but I just really wanted to say you’re not alone, and you can get through it, and he will be a delightful young man!

  6. http://Heather says

    Hi Karla. I found your blog because of Telah. I have read a little bit of it today and enjoyed looking at it. Telah is so right! I echo her sentiments to you. I have two older girls and then a 6 month old boy….so I can relate. Just know that we can get through anything with God’s help. I love the title of your blog … that is awesome…and exactly what we all should be doing…Looking Towards Heaven. Have a great day!

  7. http://On%20Fire%20For%20Him says

    I have two boys, 2 & 4, and I struggle ALOT with my 4 year old. He has always been very strong willed. Some things that i have learned is that it takes boys until the age 7 or so to catch up with girls. But in a matter of months they are right where the girls are. You will find girls tend to do things like read and write, etc easily. And boys, tend to do better as they get older.
    Also, I have been trying to understand that it takes my 4 year old many times of teaching before correction. He is a brillant child, seriously, but has a hard time always focusing (again a typical boy thing). I am learning that I need to teach first, because how will he know what is wrong or right if I don’t teach it to him??? Once I know that he understands what is right and wrong, then I discipline. And I do, discipline. I believe if I keep the reins tight now, I won’t have to always later.
    Boys also need a LOT of time playing and romping around. Sending them outside is good. And lots of time with things like blocks and cars and big and small legos, etc.
    Sorry to have written a book. But I totally get what you are struggling with. I am just a few tiny steps ahead of you.
    If you need more resources,etc. I would be glad to email you.
    Take care and trust that God created YOU to be his mommy. Despite how hard it feels now, you are doing a good job!

  8. http://Maggie says

    Um, I have recently realized that the holidays do a number on me and my kids in terms of my getting upset with them more and their attention span being much less.

    Consistently, clear expectations, clear discipline strategy, not letting the joy and goodness and goodies of the season displace needed standards at home…all are helping me.

    Treating each child to “something” each day in turn, yet working with all of them on tasks with lists and things is helpful.

    It only took two days doing it, but I started writing things down, making them be responsible for checking them off until they remembered personal responsibility again (somewhat). Letting them help me revise the list. I think I’ll get it out again Monday…I was getting too frustrated with repeat morning instructions last week.

    Just keep being creative. I think God shows us when our kids need a little extra boost and how to do it, if only for a short season until they pull their nose up a bit. You guys are great, concerned, attentive parents…and you are not failing, even those you may need to make some adjustements to keep from feeling so stressed personally. Take it as God’s help helping you parent well.

    Thanks for the drop by!


  9. http://Barb says

    You know, I don’t feel like I can offer advice for the simple reason that I didn’t have to deal with a willful child. Believe me, I know I’m lucky. But in the absence of advice for you, I can offer a prayer for you. You’re getting lots of good advice from people who know what they’re talking about so I’ll pray that God gives you the patience to get through this, hopefully, stage of his life.

  10. http://Anonymous says

    Karla and Sean,
    Quinn is the meat, the peanut butter and jelly of the sandwich!!
    And what good is the sandwich without the filling.
    I remind myself of that everyday.
    Matthew is my middle child and Karla you know what we have been dealing with concerning Matthew.
    I believe that their struggles are all part of being a middle child. We used to have “Matthew Time” when Matthew and mom and or dad could just spend time together. One of our favorite times was after the oldest and the youngest went to bed. Matthew was not in school yet and that was our special time.
    Don’t compare Abby to Quinn, Quinn is Quinn and that is what makes him special. Love him for who he is and it will all fall into place.
    And as you repeat something for the 500 million time, remember to be thankful that he can hear you!!!!!
    I will catch up with you for one of our phone chats…..

  11. http://Staci says

    Knowing you are a Christian, I do not hesitate in recommending the book “To Train Up A Child” by Micheal and Debi Pearl. You can order it at an awesome website:
    http://www.nogreaterjoy.org It is a short, inexpensive book that is a real life saver. It has canged my entire family!
    Hmmmm. Other parenting advice: Never threaten to do something you have no intention of doing. (I’m going to spank you if you dont…) and then never do it.
    And consistancy, consistancy, consistancy!

  12. http://toblerone says

    My hubby was a middle child with a brother and sister as well. He really valued alone time and one-on-one time with his parents. So maybe taking him on a “date” every other week or so – with just you or just your hubby. Maybe he’s just values some one-on-one attention from his parents? Just a thought.

  13. http://Mom's%20Secret%20Life says

    You know what, in my experience, children will shift being the “button pushers”. One season it will be your #2 child, the next, the third, then the first. My oldest (now 13) drove me around the bend more than once, when she was between the ages of 3 and 8. Now her 11-year-old sister (11 going on 22, with all the hormones intact) makes me crazy. I do ride her all the time because she’s testing out her boundaries. Eventually, she’ll find her place and it will be time for #’s 3, 4, & 5. Actually, 4 & 5 are testing boundaries right now but that’s because they are 2 year-old twins.

    So my advice, for what it’s worth is to continue parenting as you see fit. Love him, give him positive attention as well as disciplinary attention, and do what you know to be right and godly.

  14. http://Dionna%20Sanchez says

    I’m sorry you’re having a tough go of it – Karla. I’d recommend calling Focus on the Family. They can refer some other resources for you and sometimes even send them to you for free.
    Continue to pray and be unified as parents in the decisions you make as a couple.
    I love your new website look too! :)

  15. http://Beck says

    I could have written this post myself – my middle child – also a boy and a year older than yours – is our “hard” child. He’s the one who is always in trouble. Our solution, of sorts, is to find lots of ways to point out to him when he’s being good, just all the time. Also, his dad is trying to spend lots of extra time with him doing manly stuff – this weekend, they shovelled snow and put up Christmas light.
    I’m not crazy about Dobson’s book, myself – Bill Sears’ Discipline Book has been helpful for us, and a lot more gentle on my little guy’s spirit. Becoming a man is hard work – good luck!

  16. http://jujabbo says

    We truly learned the meaning of the term ‘be consistent’ with our middle child…our youngest son. He was THE one we were ALWAYS on. His older brother had to stop taking naps because he couldn’t sleep because of his younger brother. Strong willed child – you bet… It was SO hard to be consistent…but now he’s 28…he is THE most loving child…he turned out phenomenal…he thanks us for the parents we were and are to him. Keep doing what you’re doing – it sounds like to me!

  17. http://Grammie's%20Gleanings says

    My daughter is struggling with the same thing with her middle child. They have three children, oldest (boy) is 5, middle (girl) is 3, and youngest (girl) is 8 months. I told her that Child #2 is not getting enough positive attention and is seeking attention anyway she can get it, which ends up being negative attention. Child #1 is in kindergarten so does all the fun stuff associated with that and of course Child #3 gets all the “baby” attention. They also feel like they are constantly speaking to Child #2 because she has done something wrong or has not listened. Please update your blog if you come up with any good ideas, so I can pass them along to my daughter.

  18. http://Grafted%20Branch says

    Shepherding a Child’s Heart by Tedd Tripp…a great book! (I see Big Mama has already mentioned it.) I have 3 girls: 11, 6 and 4. Couldn’t be more different from one another.

    For one of my daughters, in particular, I sought Godly counsel fervently and received almost as many answers as there were people giving them! In retrospect, most of the methods advised were extreme and wrong, but I implemented them anyway. Sometimes, my weakness still haunts me.

    All that to say, here’s what I learned that I feel confident enough to share with the parent of any child…be still and know that He is God. He will speak His truth to you, through your conscience. Your job will be to walk in confidence that your common sense (as directed by Him) is more correct than the most learned, studied, even Godly person — because He entrusted those children to YOU! You are just the right one for this particular job.

    Now, having said that, I think it may have been the Tripp book that first introduced me to the concept of “training” our children; until then I’d only been waiting for them to do wrong so that I could correct them through discipline.

    Perhaps our grandparents knew something when they played games like “Simon Says,” and “Green Light, Red Light,” and “Mother May I” with us…those are all games to train a child in correct behaviors. When I started explaining my expectations — what TO do, not just what NOT to do — and using, “practice drills,” everything changed — pretty dramatically and fairly quickly!

    Concisely spoken, don’t forget to tell him what you DO want him to do, now that you’ve taken away the only thing HE could think to do in the first place. If then he disobeys your express command, through malice of forethought, I believe the Bible is clear (and Tripp is even more specific) what you must do to save his soul.

    God bless you in this noble effort…

  19. http://Lyric says

    I really enjoy your blog! I have a middle son, my kids are now 27, 28, and 30! But I remember vividly the unique challenges we faced with our “middle” gremlin… :)

    I found it very helpful to make sure that our daily routines and behaviors sent clear messages to him that he wasn’t getting lost in the shuffle of life or other sibling wants and needs. Yes, there were hand-me-down clothes, a brother who played sports before he did, went to school first, and a younger sister that friends and family pampered like a princess. BUT he was no less unique, important, fun, and loved. I also had to learn how important it was to balance the things that built strong connections to his brother, sister, and family as well as discovering what special things he alone could add to our family. And I remember the constant challenge of being consistent in discipline and praise for all three. Easier said than done, I know… :)

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