The effect the birth of a second child has on an only child

Jeffrey Kluger, Science Journalist & Author, shares advice for parents on how the first born child is affected by the birth of a second child and what parents can do to avoid regression
The Effect The Birth Of A Second Child Has On An Only Child
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The effect the birth of a second child has on an only child

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The only child suffers a loss of attention, a lot of focus, a lot of exclusive parent investment when a new child comes along. The most common phenomenon comes in the form of regression. The potty trained child, suddenly not potty trained anymore. The child who is no longer afraid of the dark, suddenly is afraid of the dark again. This is a very natural response for a former only child who is trying to get the kinds of attention the baby is getting now. The baby is getting total immersion care, particularly from the mother, if she is breastfeeding, from the father, from the grandparents. The older child with return to the behavior that earned him that attention at a much younger age. The cutoff point is about four. If the older child is four years older, you'll see much less regression. The reason is a very clear evolutionary one. At the age of four, a child is more independent, is able to move away from the campfire, move away from the group a little bit more and no longer need the attention. In fact, as parents of four year olds will notice, the child begins to pull away from that total, focused attention and becomes more independent. Once you get away from the age of four, you have a little bit less trouble with this.

Jeffrey Kluger, Science Journalist & Author, shares advice for parents on how the first born child is affected by the birth of a second child and what parents can do to avoid regression

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Jeffrey Kluger

Science Journalist & Author

Jeffrey Kluger is a senior editor and writer at Time magazine, covering science, health and other fields. He is the coauthor, along with astronaut Jim Lovell, of Apollo 13, the book that served as the basis of the 1995 movie. His more-recent release, Splendid Solution, told the story of Jonas Salk and the Polio Vaccine.  His novel, Nacky Patcher and the Curse of the Dry-Land Boats, was published in June 2007, and his newest nonfiction book, Simplexity: Why Simple Things Become Complex, was published in June 2008.

Before coming to Time, Kluger worked for Discover magazine, where he was a senior editor and humor columnist. Prior to that, he was health editor at Family Circle magazine, story editor at The New York Times Business World Magazine, and Associate Editor at Science Digest magazine. His features and columns have appeared in dozens of publications, including The New York Times Magazine, Gentlemen's Quarterly, The Wall Street Journal, Cosmopolitan, Omni, McCall's, New York Magazine, The New York Post, Newsday, and, of course, Time. He has worked as an adjunct instructor in the graduate journalism program at New York University; is a licensed—though non-practicing—attorney; and is a graduate of the University of Maryland and the University of Baltimore School of Law. He lives in New York City with his wife Alejandra and their daughters, Elisa and Paloma.

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