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Don't Treat Children Equally, Treat Them Fairly

If you have at least two children at home, dividing attention equally to all of them can be quite a daunting task as children naturally demand parental attention, so they may start to have questions if you show the slightest sign of preferential treatment to one particular sibling. However, the focus should actually shift to treating all your children FAIRLY instead of EQUALLY.

Some kids may require a bit more help, time and attention compared to others, so as parents, let’s change to parent our children fairly by providing the help, time and attention to the child who really needs it, while justifying it to the other sibling(s) and making it up to them by giving them the attention that they want the next time round.

So, while you may think you are not neglecting any one of your children, the main trick is to actually have them FEEL the same too! Here’s how:

  1. Acknowledging, but making no apologies for it

If your child complains about unfairness towards another sibling, listen to his/her reason and justify yourself properly. Be firm that giving the sibling some extra help/attention is necessary, and lace your words with some compliments to the complaining child and make it up with something else or promise the same treatment the next time around. Of course, keep your promises as children take seriously what parents say to them and it can be detrimental to their growth if you forget promises made to them.

  1. Expanding your child’s thought process

When you deal with a complaint or remark from your child about you giving preferential treatment to his/her sibling(s), use a gentle tone to pacify him/her and besides offering some reason and justification as mentioned in part (1) above, you can also turn it around and ask the question “How do you think this can be done better?” instead. You may be surprised with what children can suggest sometimes! In doing so, you not only reassure your child that you acknowledge their remark, but you also have their best interests at heart by taking into account what they want you to do (providing their suggestion is logical and doable, of course).

  1. Double down on the small, little gestures

No matter how busy your day may be, or how much time/attention one of your children takes from you, it’s not all too energy and time consuming to show the other child(ren) some tender loving care. After all, all it takes is just a loving remark like “I love you”, “you’re a good boy/girl”, “great job, keep it up” and so many others to keep their spirits up and make them feel that you still care for them deeply. Some physical touches here and there, a short cuddle, pat on the back, head or shoulder can go a long way too, as children are generally craving their parents’ attention. Having you do these small, little gestures give them such assurance that they’ve got just that – your attention.

  1. Showing fairness

In dealing with your children, you have to display fairness and be consistent with your words, tone and actions. Let them know that if one or the other does something right or wrong at home, you will be rewarding or reprimanding them all the same. You should also communicate to the other sibling(s) when you are dealing a reward or a reprimand to your child – that they should also expect the same when they do the same. Sure, the degree of the reward/reprimand can vary from child to child, but if communicated properly, your children will not have the feeling that you’re being unfair to them in any way.

Therefore, it is difficult to treat our children equally as they are individuals with different needs and capabilities, but in instilling fairness in your treatment, there needs to be plenty of communication with your children about love and care to make them feel that they’re also being loved by you. As children can be very sensitive, be mindful of details as small as your tone of voice as it can make a difference in how they construe your message. With these handy tips at hand, your children will never feel that they’re getting the short end of the stick.