Most of us have siblings, and we have grown up being mommy’s or daddy’s favourite. It is something that all kids in the family know about, so did we. Favouritism is okay, but it can have a lasting impact on a child. And sometimes even have an adverse effect on their mind.
It is okay to have a favourite child if you do! You don’t need to be guilty of that, but one must try to keep their favouritism in check so that their wrong actions get addressed correctly.
Acknowledge your feelings – It is crucial to acknowledge that you favour a child more (if you do). It is entirely normal to do so and nothing to be guilty of. Favouritism also changes sometimes as you connect more to a particular child. Avoiding it will only keep your feelings unchecked and make the favouritism stronger. Acknowledging your behaviour will help you keep a check on your emotions and avoid any favouritism towards one.
Be a conscious parent – Have the same rules for the children in the family. Sometimes the favourite child gets away with lots of benefits. We do this because we feel that the child is younger than his sibling or connect more to a particular child, and it’s going to be too harsh for the little ones. It is essential to have the same age-appropriate rules for siblings. If your older one has got a phone for himself at the age of 16, make sure you do the same for the younger when they turn 16.
Don’t forget they are kids – Research shows parents, especially mothers, start favouring younger boy child and fathers do the same to the younger girl child of the house. At times, parents feel that there won’t be more children than the last one, which is why they pamper and shower all their love on the younger one and start expecting more of the older ones. Well, its ok to have expectations, but remember your older child is also just a child. Don’t stop connecting with them, as much only because they are not doing what you want them to. Your expectations about things like chores, bedtime etc., should be based on your child’s age and maturity level and not on the basis on if they are older than their sibling or younger. Similarly, consequences should also be age-appropriate.
Do not compare – We as parents often say to our children ‘’ Look at your brother, he never behaved this way.’’ This comparing behaviour is an unhealthy competition that you are teaching your child towards their sibling. This behaviour is eventually going to affect the relationship that siblings will have in future. Mostly such comparisons lead to a lack of bonding between siblings and strained relationship between them. The one who is always being compared to the other will start feeling incapable and may think that his/her sibling is loved more. Children develop at their own pace and its completely normal for kids to achieve their milestones or do things differently at different ages. Show positive attention for good behaviour and acknowledge for putting efforts even if there is a lag in how the other child did it.
Spend one on one time with your kids – Favouritism happens when you get along with one of your children more than the other and get along more as well. It’s essential to spend time with all your children and what is more important is to spend personal time with each of them. The more you understand your child and their feelings, the more you connect with them. We must also remember not to single out a child and acknowledge them as individuals. The kind of behaviour we have with our kids also shapes our relationship with them. A child might stop sharing things with one parent because they know that the parent doesn’t listen to them or understand them as much as they know the other sibling or favour the other sibling. Imagine if that parent is not around. It will be so challenging for the child who was favoured by this parent, who now has to connect with someone else as that is the only parent the child associated with.
Please be a neutral parent, a loving parent and an understanding one.