How are your children different from each other? With my kids, they have many differences that I find fascinating. For instance, Elijah loves heavy metal music, but Michala’s into KPOP. I find this intriguing because both music genres are vastly different!
Zhen and Zephaniah are huggers, but Zechariah not so much. “You can have only one hug,” he often says to me when I ask for a hug.
Zephaniah’s the youngest (for now, until Baby arrives this August) and he’s a daredevil that likes to jump off of the stairs, tables, and couches. We have to keep our eyes on him at all times because he gets into everything!
Whereas Zechariah is very careful about his actions and often times thinks before he literally leaps like his younger brother.
Michala likes to create her own fashion style by mixing vintage 90s fashion with modern trends. Elijah, however, is happy wearing his black leather jacket, ripped jeans, and a black shirt. (I suppose that’s the rocker look.)
All of my children have different personalities and interests. They’re really close in relationship, but they’re not alike by any means. Does this mean I love one of my children more than the others? No. If anything, I find myself always wondering how or why they’re into the things they like. Or the way they I do my very best to appreciate their differences and love them for who they are as individuals.
FOUR PARENTING TIPS ON HOW TO LOVE SIBLINGS EQUALLY
Jennifer Lynch, an educator, child advocate and author of the children’s book Livi and Grace (www.jenniferlynchbooks.com), says giving children equal attentiveness is important to their happiness and starts with parents appreciating their uniqueness.
“Children are unique, unknown little people waiting to be revealed,” Lynch says. “Parents need to ask themselves, how can I embrace these differences and make each child feel and recognize their beautiful uniqueness?”
“Let the mystery of who they are and who they are meant to be unfold in their own authentic way, however awesome or peculiar it is. Everyone is different and it’s important to make every child feel special, important and loved.”
Lynch offers helpful parenting tips to help parents balance their attention on multiple children who have different interests, personalities, and talents.
1. Give children quality one-on-one time.
Consistently taking time to give your children one-on-one time shows them you care and that they are important. “This means no phones, no distractions, and being 100 percent present with your child,” Lynch says. “Make eye contact, ask questions, and just listen and let them lead at whatever activity or interaction is taking place. This makes them feel safe, in control, and loved.”
2. Celebrate their uniqueness.
An imbalance in parental attention can lead to siblings comparing themselves — never a good idea because that can create jealousy and low self-esteem, thus accentuating a sibling rivalry.
At the same time, children may think the parent is showing favoritism. “Susie may be faster than Johnny, but Johnny may be a brilliant chess player,” Lynch says. “So when they begin to compare themselves with their siblings, take that conversation and turn it into how great it is that they each have a place that shines. And bring in more examples of how their differences are beautiful and important. Set up scenarios showing examples of how those differences are good.”
3. Show your love for them.
“You obviously love your children, so don’t be afraid to show it,” Lynch says. “Give them that authentic shout-out, or the gentle, grace-filled redirection and encouragement when they need to try again at something, whether it’s poor behavior or just losing a game. Leave the shame out of it.”
4. Validate them but be authentic.
When it comes to praise, Lynch suggests quality is much more important than quantity. “Children can recognize a fake compliment a mile away,” Lynch says. “They know if you’ve really seen them or not. They know if it’s from the heart or just surface praise.”
“In these ways, showing appreciation for who each of them are will help your children develop confidence in themselves,” Lynch says. “They will take your lead and begin to find other amazing things about themselves and their friends. Making each of your very different children feel truly loved and valued will help them grow up to be happy and responsible adults.”
Special thanks to Jennifer Lynch for sharing her insight on parenting tips to love our children equally! Check out her latest children’s book Livi and Grace on her website.
About Jennifer Lynch
Jennifer is an educator and child advocate who serves as a guardian ad litem, a person appointed to represent a child’s interests in a court case. She has worked as a special education teacher for an elementary school and as a preschool teacher. In addition, Jennifer created the You Are Good brand of T-shirts and other products for sale and for donations. Thousands of the shirts have been donated to children and teenagers in the system. She holds a bachelor’s degree in psychology from Texas A&M University.
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