||Subject: closely-spaced children/bored with
I have two boys (3 years and 18 months). They seem
to be driving us a little crazy. We have a "toy" box, but they
never play with the toys. They are like bored and would rather play with
the plants, kitchen utensils etc. At night the 3-year-old insists on
sleeping with us.
Do you have a book?
I really find your articles interesting.
First, as you must know by now, having two
closely-spaced children can be a real challenge. In fact, some child
psychiatrists recommend at least three years between children, so that
the older one has had early needs met. If you are going only a little
crazy with two boys eighteen months apart, I'd say you're doing very
Many children find "real life" objects
more interesting, fun, and challenging than toys. I wouldn't be too
concerned about this. If you're worried about breakage, perhaps you
could purchase smaller, less expensive, but similar items for them.
Nature programs children to want to imitate older siblings and parents -
this is how we teach the next generation. Children are quite naturally
interested in the items they see us handle. Some of the top toy catalog
companies have begun offering more "real life" items,
child-sized. Pearl Buck once wrote that "I do not believe in a
child world ... I believe the child should be taught from the very first
that the whole world is his world, that adult and child share one world,
that all generations are needed."
In fact, some parents buy no toys, to encourage
children to learn to use actual objects, to help them feel important,
and to see themselves as contributing members of the family, rather than
children handed meaningless objects which are meant to entertain them
while keeping them away from the family. So, rather than trying
to change their inclinations, it would be easier and more helpful to
find ways to include them in the meaningful activities of the household.
That is, you might take advantage of this natural desire to be more like
their parents. It can take some energy and creativity, but it can also
be rewarding to help children in this way. A side benefit will be that
you can more readily enjoy their company too. A toddler happily mixing
the ingredients for a cake a parent is making can be a big help and is
also a lot easier to keep track of, than one who is in a different room
playing with toys.
The three-year-old wants to sleep with you because
a child that age cannot handle loneliness at night and finds the
parents' company reassuring and comforting during the dark hours. More
specifically, a child who has needed to share his parents' time and
attention with a new sibling starting at eighteen months of age, will
naturally have more need for your company and reassurance of your love
for him than if he were still your only child. He may even have more
need for reassurance than the younger son, who has never known any other
If you haven't read my article "Ten Reasons
to Sleep Next to Your Child at Night", please do so. If you still
have questions about this, feel free to write again.
I find your choice of the word "insist"
interesting. We would never say that a child "insists" on
being fed; hunger is accepted as a legitimate need that the parent must
meet. Yet if the child asks for nighttime company, our society treats
that as a demand rather than a simple request to meet an equally
important need. And what is worse? Loneliness or hunger? They are both
valid and important drives which deserve our attention, compassion, and
I have not published any books yet, though I am
currently seeking a publisher for a compilation of articles. I will also
soon add to the web site a list of recommended parenting books by other
Thank you for writing, and thank you very much for