Your 8-year-old now
Brothers and sisters spend a lot of energy competing with one another. Yet the solution isn't to try to make things even-Steven.
It's impossible to treat all your children "equally" because every child is different. Each deserves treatment that's appropriate for his age and temperament. Whether you're deciding on privileges or punishment, it's appropriate to take into account a child's personality, interests, and developmental level.
Ignore trivial squabbles. Don't let yourself get sucked into debates over whose slice of pizza is bigger. These arguments have less to do with fairness than with getting attention. You don't want to set up a pattern where the squeaky wheel gets the grease.
Save your energy for differences of opinion about larger issues, such as different bedtimes or needing to forgo one child's extracurricular activity if it collides with the other's schedule. Explain why what seems unfair on the surface has logical reasons behind it.
What helps: Avoid making comparisons between siblings. Check your expectations, too. Just because an older child is a math whiz doesn't mean the younger will be. You may be urging him to try harder when in fact he's right at grade level.
When there's a gifted child in the family, whether in academics, athletics, or some other pursuit, you need to be especially aware of finding aspects of the sibling's positive traits to praise.
Your life now
Have you said the magic words, "I love you" lately? Not to your partner – although that's important too – but to your child. You may fall into feeling that it goes without saying. But it's always a reassuring message for a child to hear.
You don't need to go overboard or be dramatic about it. But mixing up the words you use can get your message across more meaningfully. "My love for you is wider than the ocean!" "Nite-nite, love you." "Do you know what 'cherish' means? Let me teach you a new word: I cherish you!"
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