All posts tagged parenthood

When Parents Play Favorites

Published November 15, 2014 by teacher dahl

favorites 2

“Yes I do have a favorite,” admits Tricia*, mom of three. “It’s because I feel that he needs me more than his more independent siblings do. He reminds me so much of myself that I feel so connected to him.”

Janet*, mom of four, also admits to being more protective of one particular child. “She never assumes, never expects, hardly makes demands. I’m not saying she’s the nicest, kindest, because she’s not. But she’s just the one as a parent, you’re more protective of.”

Preferential treatment?
You’d assume that the favorite child gets the most attention, the most love, the most gifts. But is this really the case?

“I can’t say I treat her differently,” says Janet. “I do however, defend her more than the others when they argue amongst each other. Not because I don’t think she can defend herself, but because she allows people to get away with things more often than she should.”

Tricia, on the other hand, feels she gives her favorite even less attention: “I am gentler with him and more forgiving of his faults. But recently, because my eldest is beginning to notice the gentleness, I make a conscious effort to give equal punishment to my son. Ironically, I spend less time with him. Perhaps to mask what I truly feel inside?”

favorites pixThe reason for favorites
Family and child psychotherapist Bec Yao, Ph.D. says parents don’t usually embark on parenthood by picking a favorite. It’s something that happens over the course of time.

“Parents start out equally loving all their children. But some factors manifest, and to the eyes of people around, one child is favored over another,” she says. “Some of these factors are: health of the child upon birth, birth order, physical features, or when a child is more talented than another and would be asked by parents to perform in front of relatives and friends. Some children can also be more outgoing than others and this behavior gives pride to parents when friends and relatives say their child is so sociable, talented, and so on.”

Janet agrees. “Personality makes all the difference. Children are people that will eventually grow up, and they are people you did not choose. Although you raise them all the same, their personalities vary uniquely from each other. Some are more compatible to yours, some just aren’t.”

favorites 3

How non-favorites remain non-favorites
If a child feels that he is not favored by his parents, he will most likely resent them and the favored sibling. This can cause trouble, further cementing his spot as the least favored child.

“He will seek attention in other ways,” explains Dr. Yao. “If a child perceives that each one is treated equally, he will not resort to means to protect himself. He can always run to Mama or Papa to fix things at home. However, the moment a child perceives that parents are unable to fix things, he will take matters in his own hands, literally, and fights will ensue. This becomes a vicious cycle of the parents disciplining the aggressor and the cycle of favor continues.”

Trust issues
It’s okay if you can’t help having a favorite as long as you build a strong foundation of trust. This, according to Dr. Yao, begins at birth: “Erik Erikson’s psychosocial theory says trust should be built in the child as early as infancy. During the first few months of life, a baby needs to know that this is a trusting world because his needs are met. With this foundation, parents can have the luxury of favorites because the other children will have had enough deposits in their emotional bank accounts by their parents.”

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Balancing act
To keep comparisons at bay, Tricia has a strategy: “One-on-one dates are really key. My kids need to know and feel that they are regarded as individuals. They feel special also when they do not need to fight for the attention of their parents.”

Janet also goes on dates with her kids. “We have date days and we make sure that we converse with each child,” she says. But because she can’t really keep track of everything, she encourages her children to speak up if they feel something is amiss.

She also adds that the solution to favoritism is acceptance: “Whether you and your kids are compatible or not, you embrace their personalities and you see beyond that, and accept the people they become based on how you raise them, and you pray that they will be all that you hope for them to be.”

Giving attention to each child and making sure each one is heard will keep them from feeling there is a favorite. In the long run, it isn’t about who the favorite child is, but how everyone gets along and loves one another as a family.

source : Yahoo she

How to Raise Happy Kids : Ten Steps Backed by Science

Published June 13, 2014 by teacher dahl

raise happy kids


When you ask parents what they want for their kids, what’s usually the most common reply? They want their children to be happy.

Now there’s tons of info on raising smart kids and successful kids, but how do you raise happy kids?

Sometimes it’s hard to balance what’s best for children with what makes them happy — but the two don’t have to be mutually exclusive.

Happier kids are more likely to turn into successful, accomplished adults.

happy mom


Step 1: Get Happy Yourself
The first step to happier kids is, ironically, a little bit selfish.  How happy you are affects how happy and successful your kids are — dramatically.




Because laughter is contagious, hang out with friends or family members who are likely to be laughing themselves. Their laughter will get you laughing too, although it doesn’t even need to in order to lighten your mood. Neuroscientists believe that hearing another person laugh triggers mirror neurons in a region of the brain that makes listeners feel as though they are actually laughing themselves.


kids with friends

Step 2: Teach Them To Build Relationships

Nobody denies learning about relationships is important — but how many parents actually spend the time to teach kids how to relate to others?   (Just saying “Hey, knock it off” when kids don’t get along really doesn’t go far in building essential people skills.)

It doesn’t take a lot. It can start with encouraging kids to perform small acts of kindness to build empathy. This not only builds essential skills and makes your kids better people, research shows over the long haul it makes them happier.

Step 3: Expect Effort, Not Perfection

Note to perfectionist helicopter parents and Tiger Moms: cool it. Relentlessly banging the achievement drum messes kids up.

kids effort


The research is very consistent: Praise effort, not natural ability.




“When we praise children for the effort and hard work that leads to achievement, they want to keep engaging in that process. They are not diverted from the task of learning by a concern with how smart they might — or might not — look.”

Step 4: Teach Optimism




Want to avoid dealing with a surly teenager? Then teach those pre-teens to look on the bright side.


ten year olds


Author Christine Carter puts it simply: “Optimism is so closely related to happiness that the two can practically be equated.”

She compares optimists to pessimists and finds optimists:

  • Are more successful at school, work and athletics
  • Are healthier and live longer
  • End up more satisfied with their marriages
  • Are less likely to deal with depression and anxiety

Step 5: Teach Emotional Intelligence


Emotional intelligence is a skill, not an inborn trait.

Thinking kids will just “naturally” come to understand their own emotions (let alone those of others) doesn’t set them up for success.

A simple first step here is to “Empathize, Label and Validate” when they’re struggling with anger or frustration.


emotional intelligence



Step 6: Form Happiness Habits

Thinking through these methods is taxing but acting habitually is easy, once habits have been established.

How do you help kids build lasting happiness habits?

  • Stimulus removal: Get distractions and temptations out of the way.
  • Make It Public: Establish goals to increase social support — and social pressure.
  • One Goal At A Time: Too many goals overwhelms willpower, especially for kids. Solidify one habit before adding another.
  • Keep At It: Don’t expect perfection immediately. It takes time. There will be relapses. That’s normal. Keep reinforcing.

Step 7: Teach Self-Discipline


talk to kids

Self-discipline in kids is more predictive of future success than intelligence — or most anything else, for that matter.Yes, it’s that famous marshmallow test all over again. Kids who better resisted temptation went on to much better lives years later and were happier.



What’s a good way to start teaching self-discipline?

Help kids learn to distract themselves from temptation.

One way to do it is to obscure the temptation–to physically cover up the tempting marshmallow. When a reward is covered up, 75 percent of kids in one study were able to wait a full fifteen minutes for the second marshmallow; none of the kids was able to wait this long when the reward was visible.

Step 8: More Playtime


more playtime


Getting kids to do outdoor play regularly  works  well. Playtime isn’t just goofing off. It’s essential to helping kids grow and learn.

Step 9: Rig Their Environment For Happiness

less TV time


We don’t like to admit it, but we’re all very much influenced by our environment – often more than we realize.Your efforts will be constrained by time and effort, while context affects us (and children) constantly.What’s a simple way to better control a child’s surroundings and let your deliberate happiness efforts have maximum effect?   Less TV.

…research demonstrates a strong link between happiness and not watching television. Sociologists show that happier people tend to watch considerably less television than unhappy people. We don’t know whether TV makes people unhappy, or if already unhappy people watch more TV. But we do know that there are a lot of activities that will help our kids develop into happy, well-adjusted individuals. If our kids are watching TV, they aren’t doing those things that could be making them happier in the long run.

Step 10: Eat Dinner Together

Sometimes all science does is validate those things our grandparents knew all along. Yes, family dinner matters.This simple tradition helps mold better kids and makes them happier too.


meal together

Studies show that kids who eat dinner with their families on a regular basis are more emotionally stable and less likely to abuse drugs and alcohol. They got better grades. they have fewer depressive symptoms, particularly among adolescent girls. And they are less likely to become obese or have an eating disorder. Family dinners even trump reading to your kids in terms of preparing them for school. And these associations hold even after researchers control for family connectedness…


remember you


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