Individualized Parenting: Totally different Guidelines for Totally different Children
Recognize differences in temperament and personality early on in order to meet the individual needs of children as they grow.
IIf you have more than one child, you will know firsthand how different your children can be. One may be more energetic and a social butterfly, while the other is a little more relaxed and enjoys time among themselves. Whatever their differences, they definitely have one thing in common: They are not the same. You may love your children the same way, but that doesn’t mean you have to treat them the same way.
Personally, when I’m trying to tackle a meltdown, my remedy largely depends on which child is upset. When it’s my sensitive elder crying over hurt feelings, cuddling is the only cure. But when it’s my youngest who melts at someone touching their Spiderman toy, I remove them from the situation and give them some space to regain their composure. My little guy can usually chill alone, but my oldest needs human contact … it’s a perfect example of how different kids need different things.
When it comes to raising children, parents learn very quickly that one style of parenting does not necessarily suit everyone. While it is natural to set consistent standards and give equal attention to every child, the truth is that you can be fair without being the same. In fact, adjusting your parenting style can even bring you and your children closer, as it makes it easier to meet each child’s needs. Of course, it would be easier if exactly the same strategies worked for every child. To make it easier, the American Academy of Pediatrics has identified common sibling contrasts that often require an individualized approach.
Different children: Your younger child thrives on a very strict schedule, while his older sibling can play well with the punches.
Different rules: When choosing between your children’s competing agendas, oil your squeaky bike first. If one child gets in the way of treatment, appease the other by saying something like, “We can’t go to the movies because it’s too.” It’s late for your brother’s nap, but we rent one for you and I to watch together. ”
Different children: One of your children is totally cooperative and personable, while the other seems to fight you at every turn.
Different rules: Just because your disciplinary strategy worked on one child doesn’t mean it worked on your second (or third or fourth). If a child doesn’t respond to your approach, make adjustments. Maybe she just needs a tighter leash than her siblings.
Different children: Your oldest (or youngest) child demands a lot more attention than the others.
Different rules: If one of your children feels overshadowed by another, explain why you cannot always give them as much attention as you would like. Say something like, “Your little sister needs mom now because she could get hurt if I don’t watch her.” Make sure to spend a little more time with him when you have a minute off.
Different children: You share a special interest with one child more than another.
Different rules: If you go to soccer with a kid every week, lock in a regular time to do something your other kid likes, be it a comic book store or a science museum. You might even develop new interests yourself.
Taking a different approach with each child will help them realize that you are not playing favorites. Do not compare them to their siblings and never hide their affection. Yes, one kid can be a breeze while another is an absolute hurricane. But still distribute the “I love you” evenly. The key is to tailor your approach based on their individual quirks and you will make everyone happier (including you).
Kiley Roberson is the chief strategy officer for the Tulsa City-County Library system. She has been a columnist for TulsaKids for 9 years.