Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Casting Your Children In Positive Roles

Parents of multiple children learn very quickly that baby number two does everything differently than baby number one.  It doesn't take a nuclear engineering degree to figure that out.  Basically, after you have been a parent for a while and find yourself getting comfortable with the role, you introduce a new child to the mix and are humbled once again with the feeling that you might have learned something the first time around but your parenting approaches are now being tested by a new individual, with a new disposition and frankly everything seems confusing and different.

That is the way of the world.  Siblings are created by the same parents, and join the existing household, but nobody told you they would be soooooo different.  Well really they did tell you but you really didn't believe it until now.  You know you are not at all like your sister or brother, you like them but you are not like them.  Well, your children are no different than you.  They are not like their siblings.  In fact, they usually are direct opposites.  So what is a parent to do?

Well, first of all recognize that this is not a bad thing.  Just different.  If you first child is a cooperative, pleasing child, your second child will probably be headstrong, stubborn and a little outrageous.  But the key for parents, is to recognize what is actually going on here.  Siblings are born to compete with each other for your attention.  They want to stand out.  They want to matter.  They want you to recognize them.  And they will strive for that attention all of the time.  The key is to be able to give all of your children the positive attention they deserve.  And to actively avoid casting them in negative roles.  NONE of this Good kid/Bad kid stuff.  Don't cast any of your children in the role of the proverbial "black sheep".  Kids are smart and they will live up or down to your expectations of them.

A helpful exercise is to sit down and write out a list of 5-10 qualities in each of your children that you admire.  These positive traits should be what you concentrate on with each one.  Let them know that you think they are wonderful and special in their own skin.  By doing this, you will cut down on the competition within your family and decrease the sibling rivalry.  And above all, if you currently think of one of your children as the "problem" or "challenging" child--retrain yourself and (your partner) to overcome that thought pattern and look at each child as a wonderfully talented and unique individual.  This advice can literally transform your household.  You have no idea how powerful your perceptions of your own children are and how much these perceptions shape their self identities.  So commit this minute to only casting each of your children in a positive light.  The long term benefits of this simple advice will be huge!

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