It’s something I should have always known, no two children are the same. Growing up with two other siblings, our personalities were all different, yet we had largely the same upbringing. It still surprises me however, just how different they are, and just how difficult it is to parent different personalities. Do you change parenting styles according to your children? How can I be the best parent to each one when their needs, interests and quirks are so drastically different?
You are the same person, you love your children all with the same devotion and vigour, give them all the same opportunities, and to a large extent try to balance out the same attention. Yet they are not the same people and they never will be, I’ve started to learn that you most definitely have to adapt your parenting styles.
One might be more timid and easy-going, while the other is highly social and passionate. One adapts to change, while another might need extra time to adjust. Same parents, same house, same culture, yet two completely different personalities.
The Soft Soul
I have two boys, pretty close together in age (so I haven’t changed much), my eldest is a soft soul. My husband thinks almost too sensitive. He’s not shy at all, in fact quite the contrary, he loves his friends and has the confidence to speak up in a room filled with 100 people. He thrives on praise and has the softest heart in the world, but you just need to look at him with a little disappointment or anger in your eyes and he picks up on it and will cry. He cries for a lot. He is highly empathetic and will cry if he feels he has hurt you.
I know however that is future is bright, he is empathetic, he understands others feelings. He would make a great therapist/doctor one day (though all he wants is to race for Ferrari in Formula One).
Then we have our defiant one
My youngest, he’s a force to be reckoned with. He is not even 3 yet, but yesterday this little guy, in the middle of a meltdown, actually said “Daddy and I both have short tempers”. How right you are my little munchkin. He also adores praise, and love, however, when he decides he wants something, he WANTS that thing, it’s all or nothing and boy oh boy he will break you till you cave. He throws things, he gets cross if things don’t go his way. To put it frankly, he is stubborn as hell.
I know however that if I can nurture this passion properly, I can help him to become a great leader, a confident CEO of a grand empire (though all he wants is to play Golf).
How do parent different personalities in the most effective way?
I’ve come to realise a few things, looking at their “love languages”. The outcome needs to be same because that’s fair but the parenting style needs to be tweaked a bit for their individual style. My eldest thrives on praise. Words of affirmation and encouragement. My youngest doesn’t actually need the encouragement as much, he knows hes got this down and has the confidence to jump right in. While he also thrives on praise, I have also learnt with him to stand strong to your word. Don’t falter, because he does test you. He requires an enormous amount of patience and guidance. I also know that just because he is more “strong willed” it certainly doesn’t mean he is not sensitive. In fact, in a way, he is MORE sensitive and the “aggression” often comes from not knowing what to do with that emotion.
It’s important to give all your children the same amount of attention, take a day in the week or month for some undivided one on one time. Let their own strengths shine through.
Steer clear of labels (which is exactly what I just did when i described them), by repeatedly referring to a child as “naughty”, they will believe that they are indeed naughty, and use that as an excuse to fall back on. I’ve heard my youngest a few times saying “I’m naughty hey”. Don’t over emphasize their differences either.
The truth remains that even when there are two boys being raised by the same two parents, they will be different for so many reasons. I’m looking forward to seeing how they continue to develop and watch as their personalities develop even further. I think as long as you instill the same values and principles in life, the same positive belief in each child you are on the right path. This in an ongoing journey…challenging me every day, but I’ll be sure to keep you updated every step of the way.
I know one thing is for sure, if they can keep the same bond they share now throughout life, they will lead lives filled with adventure with each other by their side.