Parents of twins or siblings understand better than anyone that every child is unique. Being born from the same two people and raised according to the same basic principles, kids are completely different. Of course, diverse temperaments, traits of character, and even mood influence the behavior of every baby. That is why parenting rules should be always adapted to specific traits of a baby.
In this respect, it is crucially important to set the rules for kids fairly so that siblings feel no jealousy or being disregarded. First of all, such an individual approach will help you better understand your children, cope with tantrums and low spirits successfully, and will contribute to the harmonization of your relationships in the family. In this blog post, we are going to talk about the most frequent differences between kids and provide some recommendations to give you an idea about how you could adapt your rules for children with different needs.
Adapted Rules for Kids That Are Different
Undeniably, every parent knows their kids better. We are going to pay attention to the most common peculiarities that make it hard to raise siblings. They may have different:
- academic abilities.
What If One of the Kids Has Problems With Health
There can be plenty of pieces of advice for new parents, however, when it comes to health, it is clear that a kid with the worse health will get more attention. Though, it is crucial for parents not to sacrifice the needs of the other baby. That is why we suggest the following:
- Find at least half an hour every day when you are going to devote time to your other child, this should be your exclusive time together.
- Always remember to ask your child how they feel and pay due attention to whatever they tell you.
- Do not ask them to help with the other baby too often, otherwise, there can be the feeling of being burdened.
- Setting certain boundaries and safe rules for kids, be sure that they are fair for both of them.
- Be honest and explain to your children why you and they need to behave in a certain way.
What If Kids Have Different Schedules
Let’s have a look at the example of Nancy’s family. The first son had such a flexible schedule. She could take him wherever she needed to, and he slept in the stroller peacefully. However, when the younger one was born, Nancy understood why many parents are complaining about sleepless nights. The younger son, Jonathan, always needs to know what is going next, that is why Nancy has had to set a certain baby sleep schedule for her younger sensitive son, and she follows it strictly. Keeping up with this prescribed routine has helped her avoid hysterical outbursts and tantrums of the youngest family member.
According to Dr. Schonfeld, it is fine that some children fall apart when something is happening differently. These children need more regularity in their lives — they need to eat and go to bed at the same time, while these routines have to be accompanied by the same actions and rituals. On the other hand, some kids quickly adapt to new environments and have nothing against a changing schedule.
How to settle the situation? Obviously, the whole family will have to adapt to the needs of a more sensitive child. However, in the process of setting their regimen, be sure that the schedule and needs of an easygoing baby are taken into consideration as well. Besides, whenever the needs of a sensitive baby get in a way, be sure that you are not simply taking the other baby from the playground but are looking for a compromise. You could suggest an interesting game you are both going to play together when the younger one will be napping in the afternoon.
What If Kids Have Different Temperaments
Every child is different, it’s true, however, if you have noticed diverse temperaments, most likely, the older one was a piece of cake to discipline and come to an agreement. With the appearance of a younger baby in the family who is searching for ways to try the nerves of parents, you have understood that it will never be as easy as it has been before.
William Coleman, M.D., professor of pediatrics at The University of North Carolina, explains that no matter how you raise your children, their temperaments play a significant role in the way they are going to behave. At the age of 2, you will figure out the differences between the two kids, however, most probably, you have already noticed the difference from the first months.
As soon as the realization of the situation comes, adapt your approach to handling the same situations with different kids. If an obedient child will listen to your requests to clean toys out of the way, while the other one won’t even try, probably taking these toys to a stockroom for a while will help to understand how important it is to listen to parents. Adapting of approach and kids’ rules will help you cope with complicated situations. What works with one baby won’t work with the other one.
When Kids Have Different Needs
One of the factors that influence the needs of children is, of course, the age. Obviously, the attention of mommy is needed to a newborn baby more than to a preschooler who can spend an hour on one’s own. However, this is not the only reason. Some children will require more attention than others even if they are not the youngest.
This is well explained by Sybil L. Hart, Ph.D. who says that every child requires different things to feel secure, be it the necessity to hug with mom before going to bed, talking to a parent all day long. This is the job of parents to provide children with everything they need. And there should be no feeling of guilt.
For instance, if you have to supervise your toddler that cannot stop playing near sockets, despite the safety measures you have already taken, you can explain to an older sibling shy attention is needed to another baby more. When you have the possibility, spend some time with an older baby, exclusively, so that not to deprive the other sibling of your attention. The reason why parents are treating siblings differently is that children require being treated differently, and the needs of every child are important to their parents.
What If Children Have Different Interests
Aside from the siblings who may have diverse talents, preferences, and hobbies, be ready that your own interests may not coincide with what your kids like doing. As usual, it is always necessary to compromise. You could either share a pastime with your partner. While one of you takes your daughter to a dancing class, the other will stay home to draw with her sister.
You may not share the same hobbies with your kids, however, you will need to find other possibilities to spend time with them. If one of your kids is fond of soccer, use the time of the training as the possibility to go to a museum or exhibition with another kid. Probably, in the process of investigating your child’s interests, you will make a discovery and find not only a mutual pastime option but also expand your own interests.
When Kids Have Diverse Academic Capabilities
Matthew Peterson tells that his wife needs to sit and guide the process of fulfilling the assignments with their 9-years-old Susanne, while Jason at his age of 8 can already do all the assignments on his own, with just some rare interventions from mom for control.
One of the basic rules for parents states: “If your child needs you, be there for them.” When one of the siblings needs you to help with home assignments and school projects, have no guilt about not spending time with the other child. Explain to both of them that your main intention is to help them both succeed at school. Whenever another child asks you to help, never suggest coping without your assistance. Prove that you won’t let your kids solve their problems on their own when they need you.
Whenever it is possible, you can join the kids together to do home assignments together with you. This may become a common pastime instead of a long tiring process of explanations and teaching. When you realize that one of the kids needs additional classes and you cannot cope on your own, arrange a tutor, and spend this time together with another baby.
Why Do Parents Treat One Child Better Than the Other?
This is the question that should never be raised within one family. Paying more attention to a younger or a more sensitive child should not lead to jealousy or the feeling of being ignored by another kid. Here are some recommendations that will help you be fair when you cannot equal the time you spend with your children.
- Always tell how you love both (all) of them even if at a certain moment, you are asking one of your kids to wait when another child needs you for some reason.
- Never compare your kids. Whenever you ask one of your babies why they are not behaving (studying, etc) in the same way as the elder (younger) sibling, this will undermine the feeling of equal love for children.
- Treat them always with affection. Of course, it is so easy to regularly hug and kiss your obedient child who is sitting calmly and painting while the sibling has already broken two plates in the morning and is still running all over the apartment. Be sure that all of your kids hear that you love them the same number of times.
- Notice achievements and progress of every baby, even if it is sometimes hard. Of course, it is easy to praise for good behavior or high grades. However, always find something to praise the other baby for. You may need to put some efforts not to be overemotional for A’s and to notice how well another child has managed to eat on one’s own.
- Be honest and open with them. Children understand much more than adults think they do. Whenever rules for children become different or you have to spend some of your time with one of them only, always explain to your children the reasons for this. Later, they will even help you.
- Support each other with your partner. When the needs of one baby require more attention from parents, they need to help each other as much as possible. If you have newborn suffering from colics and cannot pay due attention to an older baby, ask your husband for help with a younger child and spend some time quality time with an older baby who needs mommy no less.
- Do not blame yourself when something is not happening in the way you have expected. For example in the situation when you are trying to find different effective approaches for your different kids.
Therefore, the question of why parents treat one child better than the other is incorrect because the different treatment does not imply that it is worse for one of the kids. It is not always the amount of time parents can spend with their children but the quality of a mutual pastime that matters. Whenever you feel that it is too complicated to be handled, ask for professional help. This can be a tutor for doing home assignments, an assistant to help with household chores or even a psychiatrist who will help identify an approach for every child and will provide useful recommendations on how to fairly and equally treat your kids with different needs.