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Monday, June 13, 2011

Parents: Accused of Playing Favorites?

Children don’t suddenly tell their parents one day they are playing favorites. They have been watching their parents act in ways for awhile that have made them feel as if they love, care, and like their siblings more than them.

When parents are told about their behavior, they usually deny that they are playing favorites and will follow up with a statement like, “I love all my children the same.” Actions speak louder than words, so let’s look at what some parents are doing that make at least one of their children feel that they are being treated unfairly.

When giving praises and compliments…

Some parents just don’t know how to distribute positive words effectively. They are either preoccupied with other things, reenacting how they were treated as a child, or are too hurt by the past actions of their children to bother to say anything that will encourage them. The children who may need more attention than the others know that they have problems and don’t need their parents to continue to remind them of this, rather they need help and it is up to the parents to do what it takes to get them the help they need and back on the right track. Making comparisons between children or thinking that praising the other siblings will make “the problem child” perform better, doesn’t do anything for them but build resentment.

When gift-giving…

When shopping, some parents have taken the time to listen more to the needs of one child over another. Some children are better communicators than others. However, whatever the reason why a parent would give another child more or better gifts than another when both children have demonstrated good behavior, is wrong. If a parent happens to have extra money right around the time one of the children’s birthday is coming up, consider dividing up the money between the two children and saving a portion of the money until the next child’s birthday comes up.

When planning events…

There will be those times when a parent will invite family members to a celebrated event. Now if the parent is careful to use the same guest list for all the children, and some of the guests are able to make it to one child’s birthday but not all, then the child will be disappointed in whoever couldn’t make it, and not upset with the parent for at least inviting the guest. However, when a parent makes a big deal out of one child’ birthday and not the others, he or she is causing unnecessary jealousy between siblings.

When conversing to other children…

Parents can create a hostile environment for their children by not watching what they say and how they say it. If a parent is talking to one child in a nice tone and irritated often when talking to the other, in time the child will feel as if the parent likes or favors their brother or sister more.

When talking about their children to others…

Children pay attention to adult conversation. If the least favored child hears you on the phone or telling someone in-person how great their sibling is while criticizing he or she, they will become resentful. Some children will purposely do negative things as their way of paying the parent back for not saying anything good about them.

When teaching responsibility…

Some parents avoid giving any responsibility to one child and overdo it with another. Maybe one child is allowed to go to the mall with their friends, while the other isn’t. He or she may be allowed to have a cell phone, the car, or something else while the other isn’t. Although the child has heard the parents tell them, “Until you show that you are responsible you are allowed to do…” They will still overlook the reason and focus on the fact that you are allowing the other child to do or have more than them. You can help them understand why you do what you do by giving them more responsibility in other tasks until they meet your requirements. If you don’t pay close attention to when the child who accuses you of being unfair has done well, what you are doing will look and feel like favoritism.

When showing trust…

Every parent wants to trust their child, but when you feel you can’t and they have shown you that you can’t, and then you have no choice but to act differently when it comes to distributing duties. But some parents will say they don’t trust their children without explaining to them why. Provide proof as to why your child can’t be trusted, just don’t tell them that you don’t trust them. And if you want a positive relationship with them in the future, put a deadline on their punishment. Don’t keep holding things against them that they did years ago.

By Nicholl McGuire

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