Don’t Play Favorites
Expressing Love to Kids Equally
Photo by: @chaus_adventure
Many couples aspire to have more than one child, especially those who are confident that their hearts and home have enough room for love and nurture. As parents, it’s easy to declare that no child is more loved than the other, that each occupies as much space as their brother or sister. While this may be true, a child’s perception of how they are being treated by their parents compared to their siblings may not always align with how their mom or dad see things. Some kids may be more accepting, but those who are less discerning may face some issues growing up.
A study in psychology led by professor Alex Jensen revealed that children who feel that there exists a “differential treatment” at home are more likely to have problems with maintaining family relationships and can even adopt risky behaviors once they hit adolescence. In families that aren’t as tight-knit, the more that the child feels that they are less favored, the greater the chance that they might be victims of substance abuse. According to Jensen, parents can minimize any ill effects of perceived favoritism simply by letting kids know that they are genuinely loved despite whatever it is they think they lack.
As parents, you should not rely on your words alone in making your children feel that the love and warmth that you give are spread evenly. Here are some things that you can do to secure a happier home filled with well-loved and contented kids:
Learn what makes them feel loved.
Every child is unique, and you should be able to identify what actions your son or daughter is most receptive of. Do they crave hugs and kisses? Do they long to spend quality time with you? Do they beam with pride every time you compliment them for a job well done? These may be subtle reactions, but keenly observing what makes your child the happiest is key to get your feelings through to them.
Celebrate their quirks.
Do not compare and contrast. This can create jealousy among siblings and result in low self-esteem. Instead, appreciate your child’s unique talents and traits, and guide them as they hone their skills and learn to love the skin that they’re in. Bond over games, sports, and other activities that are of interest to your kids.
Who doesn’t love surprises? Whether it be planting a kiss on their cheek when they least expect it or revealing an item that they’ve been saving up for the longest time, initiate ways to express your love and appreciation for your child. Stop second-guessing whether or not you’ll allow yourself to freely channel your affections!
Avoid being the judge, jury, and executioner.
It’s common for siblings to have disagreements every now and then. Instead of defending one child, let each of them figure out a solution together. Offer advice to each of your kids, intervene when things get rough, but prioritize establishing a healthy dialogue among your children so nobody would feel victimized or left out.
It’s easy to get carried away especially in moments of fun, but try to notice how you speak and act towards your kids. Are you more prone to giving out praises to a particular child? Do you have a tendency to discipline one more than the other? Remember that whether your decisions are equal or fair, it is up to your children — not you — to decide.