Out-Numbered By Your Kids?
Five Parenting Tips to Help You Maintain Your Sanity
When you are raising more than one child you will hear “You like her/him better than me!” or “We never do anything I want to do!” more than once. Just because you hear it does not make it true. Day-to-day life with multiple children can get overwhelming at times. You will have days where you feel as if you are simply treading water – nothing you do is getting 100%. There are a few ways you can help keep some balance and some perspective on your parenting journey.
- Life isn’t fair. Your mom was right! There will be times when things are not equal between your children. And, that’s okay. It does not mean you’re playing favorites. Sometimes the age difference between children makes one child feel as though he is constantly following his older sibling and not doing anything he wants to do. Additionally, he may complain that his older sibling has more privileges than he. And, he’s probably right. Younger kids do not have to like attending their older sibling’s practices or having an earlier bedtime. Though your younger child is not likely to believe you, remind him that his time will come. The older siblings will move on and he will have your undivided attention.
- Make a date. Once a month make a date with just one of your children. Spend a morning or afternoon together doing something (reasonable) that that particular child wants to do. Unless there is a true emergency, do not break this date. If they know they have time with just you coming up, children are less likely to whine.
- Sometimes it’s a matter of timing. There will be times, when you have multiple kids, that one child outgrows something or needs something new. This does not mean that every child gets new sneakers or a new backpack. If you try to make every single thing exactly even you will only make yourself insane, broke and wondering why your children are so demanding.
- As your children are growing up have a running conversation about how families root for each other and help each other. If you start this conversation when your children are young, they will be less likely to pout when a sibling is getting extra attention for a birthday or for their piano recital. Help them learn to be happy when a brother or sister does well. If a child is struggling with not being the center of attention, gently remind him of times when he was the center of attention to help him see that he also gets special attention when it’s warranted.
- Don’t compare your children. Of course, this is impossible, you will compare your children. The key is to keep your comparisons in your head. If you must talk about the differences in your children, do it when they are not around to hear you. As you are no doubt well aware, each children is different. It’s not fair to expect one to adopt traits of another. If you have one introverted child and one extroverted child, they are going to choose friends differently and they will pursue different types of activities. Forcing one to fit into the other’s mold is a recipe for resentment and bickering among siblings.
Things even out over time. The longer you parent your children you will see this. There will be times when one child needs more of your attention or extra love. It’s okay to focus on that child’s needs. You don’t owe the other kids equal time. There will be times when they are the one that needs the extra time and love and you will be there for them when it comes. Celebrate each of your kid’s individual strengths and encourage his siblings to do the same. If your kids grow up knowing they have no need to compete with their siblings your house will be much more peaceful.
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Barb, LMHC, CPC, Ed.M, CAS