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          Is Your Firstborn Acting Out?

          December 24, 2003

          Don’t understand why your child is having temper tantrums or turned into a drama queen? Dr. Phil has some advice that may surprise you.

          See things through your child’s eyes.
          Understand that something huge happened in your firstborn child’s life when you had another child. When the first child was the only child, he was used to getting all of your attention. Your child didn’t have to compete for it or share it with any siblings. When a new child came along, his world was turned upside down.

          Recognize your child’s strategy.
          The attention that used to be given will now be taken, with temper tantrums, yelling, and bad behavior that makes you pay attention.

          Don’t yell.
          For a child who is trying to get attention, yelling is a reward. It confirms your child’s ability to push your buttons. If you stop yelling and your child can’t get a reaction out of you — but receives consistent disciplinary consequences — he will soon realize that the bad behavior needs to change.

          Make your child feel special.
          Carve out some things that are just "big girl/big boy" activities for your firstborn and develop special privileges and roles for him. Make sure that no other siblings in the house get to do these things. Both parents should participate in these activities separately so that your child develops a special relationship with both mom and dad. Your child needs to feel that he is not just another face in the crowd. When your child feels special, he won't feel the need to act out and demand attention, because he will already be receiving it.
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