When that first child comes along, it may feel like you couldn't possibly give out the same amount of love to another child. Yet it doesn't take long before you realize that having any other number of children afterwards seems to draw from this reservoir of love that you never knew was there.
For many moms the challenge isn't about being able to love additional children, it is how to make each child feel special. Below are some helpful tips to give your children the individual attention they need to feel special and loved.
The Middle Child Syndrome
It is helpful for parents to know that if they have a middle child, there really is such thing as the middle child syndrome. Middle children can easily feel lost in the shuffle. The oldest child tends to demand more attention because parents tend to have greater expectations of them. There is more work in learning how to parent that first child through every new stage of their development.
The youngest child tends to receive a great deal of attention as well, as they are often thought of as "the baby" of the family. They tend to get more sympathy from parents and many of their antics are viewed as being adorable.
So stuck there in the middle is the child who doesn't fit into either role and just seems to go along with the flow. They can easily get lost in the family with so much attention being paid to the oldest and youngest.
If a parent understands that the middle child syndrome is real, they are on their way to learning how to make each child feel special. Without this recognition, parents may be unintentionally making the oldest and youngest feel special, while the middle child feels ignored.
Recognize Each Child's Individuality
It helps parents to make each child feel special when they can recognize, appreciate and value each child's individuality. The uniqueness of each child is what truly makes them special. Every child has their own interests and needs that are personal to them. If a parent can recognize this, it helps them to better appreciate and value those differences.
No matter how many children you have, learn to identify those unique differences in each of your children. Once you understand what they are, you can build a special relationship based on those differences. It helps you to plan activities and events that will interest your child. It will also make your child feel like you have really taken the time to get to know them.
Once you understand your child's individuality you are then able to move toward appreciating and valuing those differences. Children can sense when they are appreciated and valued. If your child feels that they are, they will be made to feel special.
It also helps to point out to children what makes them unique and lovable. Children love to hear as well as see love demonstrated in action. When you can identify and point out their potential, strengths and talents, your child will feel special in his or her own right.
It is important to spend special time with each of your children. A little one-on-one time with your child can go a long way toward making them feel good about themselves and their relationship with you.
Sometimes it helps to schedule time with each child. Otherwise the busyness of life can keep you from following through. Use this special one-on-one with your child doing something special that particular child will enjoy.
Avoid Comparison and Favoritism
Nothing will diminish a child's self-esteem faster than comparing your children to one another or demonstrating favoritism. When you appreciate and value their differences, you don't use them against your children. It will only make them feel like they can't live up to your standards or the standards of another sibling.
Comparison and favoritism will also breed animosity in their relationship with one another. Sibling rivalry may naturally take place but you can avoid some of it by not making your children feel bad about the person they are.
Recognize and Praise Their Achievements
Although your children's achievements might differ, it's important to recognize them and praise them. For one child it might be an educational achievement and for another child it might be an athletic achievement. It is those very differences that need to be recognized and praised.
Children thrive on praise from their parents so make sure it is being handed out equally and sincerely. Children also recognize false praise. By appreciating their individual achievements your praise will be heartfelt and warmly received.
Treat Your Children Fairly
It can get tricky when it comes to treating your children fairly. It may seem that logically you should treat each child equally; however, that is not always the case. If you have one child who is 10 years old and another child who is 17 years old, they cannot possibly be treated equally. However, you can treat them fairly.
Children won't always understand why one sibling seems to get to do more but it helps to have an honest discussion about this. If your children understand that they are being treated on fairness, which is dependent on their age, they will better be able to accept your decisions.
Parents should avoid the phrase "because I said so" and be willing to have an open and honest discussion about why things are the way they are. As long as a parent is doing everything they can to make each child feel special and treated fairly at the same time, they are on the right track.
Making Children Feel Special
Parents can avoid the guilt trap by taking all of these steps to make sure each child feels like a special member of their family. Recognizing their individuality, spending time with each child, avoiding comparisons and favoritism, and treating children fairly will go a long way toward making each one feel that they have a special and unique place in this world.