Q&A 3-for-1: sleeping through the night, sibling squabbles, cursing

Three, three, three posts in one!

Beaver Girl writes:

"When, in general, do exclusively breastfed babies start sleeping through the night?   I would define that as six hours in a row or so.  I have heard answers that vary from 12 weeks to 2 years!  I know every child is different.  Just wondering in general so I can adjust my expectations - and/or those of my MIL.  She keeps asking if my 8 week old is sleeping through the night yet - which is getting irritating.  She seems to think adding cereal (to what? breastmilk?) would mean he would sleep more."

Two things:

I have no idea. El Chico slept through the night (the medical definition is 5 hours in a row, but I'll go with yours of 6 hours in a row) around 13 months or so. El Pequeño did (temporarily) at 2 weeks (and then regressed with teething, and then if you read my blog today, well, let's just say he's not sleeping through the night anymore). My mom says I did at under a year and my brother did at 3 years, but he says he still wakes up once or twice a night (he's 30 years old). So who knows? There's probably an average, but do you really want your kid to be average?

Lie. Tell her he's sleeping "fine." "Like a baby." And feel free to lie to anyone else who's going to give you crap or have inappropriate expectations about baby things. Because nobody knows and all kids are different and you know your kid better than anyone else does. Also, the person asking will never know the difference, and if it saves you the same dumb "why don't you let him cry/put cereal in his bottle/give him Benadryl/my kids all slept through at 4 weeks" conversation, it's all good.

(Also, when I started El Chico on rice cereal he started waking up more often at night. So YMMV on the cereal thing anyway.)

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Karla writes:

"I have three toddlers (21 months this month).  Basil is constantly taking things from Zeke.  When i am in the room, i have been asking to return the toy to Zeke.  Usually, i end up helping Basil do this by doing it with him, hand-over-hand.

Here is the second problem:  whenever Zeke gets a toy taken away, he screams bloody murder (very high, piercing scream at the very top of his lungs).  My husband works nights, and is therefore sleeping during the day, so this doesn't suit him very well. Yet, I don't want to punish Zeke for screaming, because I don't want Basil to get away with what he is doing.  I wouldn't always know that he was taking things, because I am not always in the same room (or on the same floor).  Is he too young to teach him to come and tell me when there is a problem?  Do I want to teach him to tattle?"

It seems to me that you should be working toward the goal of not having to mediate between Basil and Zeke. Eventually, Zeke should be able to tell Basil not to take his stuff and get him to give it back himself. Right now you're putting yourself squarely in the middle by making yourself the one who forces Basil to give the stuff back, and you're reinforcing your role as middleperson by getting Zeke to tell you when Basil's taken his stuff. You're also inadvertantly giving Basil the role of Aggressor and Zeke the role of Victim, which will cause problems for their relationship into adulthood.

By redirecting your attention and energy you can start setting them up to work it out themselves. When Basil takes something, instead of going after him to give it back, focus your attention on Zeke and helping him to speak up and ask for it back (you'll have to follow through by making Basil put it into Zeke's hand at the beginning). That should a) demotivate Basil to take things, since he won't get any attention by doing it, and b) start to empower Zeke to defend himself from Basil. It's not going to happen overnight. In fact, it probably won't happen for months and months, but it's better than the situation you're currently setting up. It may also help with the screaming problem, because you'll be giving Zeke something proactive to do instead of just shrieking like a dog whistle.

If you haven't read it already, run don't walk to the library/your local bookseller/Amazon to get Siblings Without Rivalry by Faber and Mazlish. They have great sections on how to teach your kids to be able to solve their own squabbles.

Where's the other toddler in all of this? You must be an iron woman to get through this squabbly stage with three!

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Liz writes:

"I have a potty mouth. I would fit right in with those well-known sailors. My husband is only slightly better than me. It's not that I curse all the time just that when I do it's pretty offensive. It's like a reflex; someone cuts me off and I'm cursing him/her and forgetting that my son is in the back seat. I'm pretty sure you already know what I'm going to ask but the question is: how do I learn to curtail the offensive language before my son starts to repeat everything I've said? My son, Riley, is now 16 months old and has a bunch of words but he's just starting to show signs of word repetition. Right now he says something that sounds suspiciously like "oh, shit!". Of course it's garbled enough that it could be interpreted as something else (luckily). The last thing that I want is to be the parent of "that kid". Ya know, that one that calls little Suzie an asshole for stealing his toy at daycare? I'm obviously aware of the problem but keep procrastinating and thinking "well, I've still got a lttle time". The simple solution is to just stop, but that's a lot harder than it appears. I know I'm not planning on forgoing curse words altogether because there are time when a simple "gosh darnit" just won't do the trick. I just need to figure out how to stop the verbal vomit in front of Riley."

Damned if I know. Seriously. I curse like a trucker. It's bad. Very bad. A few months ago we went to my SIL's house and within 30 seconds of walking in the door El Chico said, "Those fucking people!" (I don't know who he was talking about--not my ILs.) My MIL almost shit a brick lost her composure and asked indignantly, "Where did he hear that language?!" directing an accusatory glance at my poor, genteel husband. My SIL, bless her heart, jumped in with, "Mom, he lives in New York City. He hears it on the street all the time." I love her, my innocent SIL. But it was a close call. Almost close enough to help me stop cursing.