Most parents will say that they love all their children equally and that is probably true, but do you like all your children equally? Few of us will admit to having a favourite child, yet, children, even within the same family, are so different that it’s hard not to have personal preferences. Some children are better match for our own personalities than others. Some are harder to parent and we can get so exhausted that we unintentionally seek more interaction with the ‘easier’ children. You may even notice that your preferences change and you have a different favourite child at different times.
While it’s perfectly normal to have a favourite child, openly showing it can lead to problems in the family dynamics and affect the children’s self-esteem. Here are some things you can do to make sure you’re favouring all your children and no one feels left out.
Obviously, the attention you give is never going to be equal to the minute, but do your best to ensure that all your children spend some one-on-one time with you and have their own special activities on the family calendar. Sometimes one child will demand more attention than others purely because of the stage of their development, for example, a 2-year-old is not as independent as an 8-year-old and will need more help with everything. In that case, you can explain to your other children why that child is getting more attention and point out other times when the scales were tipped the other way.
Have the same discipline rules for all children. Again, this can be hard when the children are at different levels of understanding. While you may not be able to get a 2-year-old to follow along, you can talk about your expectations and gently correct your toddler to let your other children see that the same rules apply to everyone.
Notice the good things
Take time to notice what is happening in each of your children’s lives. Comment when they’re putting a lot of effort into something and celebrate each child’s successes equally, even if some successes may look a lot bigger to you than others.
Each child is an individual with unique traits and they don’t have to be like anyone else. Treat each child as if you’ve started the whole parenting gig from scratch – it doesn’t matter what their siblings were doing at their age and how their abilities compare.
Whether we have a favourite child or not. all children have the need to be loved for who they are and it’s our job as parents to give them exactly that.
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