Don’t compare siblings to one another. Each of your children has been uniquely created for their individual purposes by their Creator. They have unique talents and struggles. So, don’t compare them to one another and say things like, “Why can’t you be more like your sister?” Siblings who grow up in this manner often don’t have good relationships with one another (or their parents) because of the resentment that grows from trying to compete for a parent’s attention or praise.
Take time out to listen to them. Like everyone, children need and want to be heard. Sometimes they say things that don’t make sense to us. But instead of getting frustrated view it as what it is: a desire to be with you and have your attention. The time will come when we will compete with their friends and the outside world for their attentions. So, enjoy them now and foster a relationship that will last a lifetime. Don’t get me wrong, there are times that my children cannot have my attention because I’m on an important call, speaking with another adult, engaged with another child etc. During these times I gently say, “Mommy’s busy right now. But I want to talk to you as soon as I’m finished” or “Can you tell me at bedtime?”
Set time aside regularly to just be with your children. Whether you are a working mother, a mother of a new baby, or a mother of many, scheduling time to just be with each of your children is essential. This can be as elaborate as a date night (scheduled weekly or monthly) or as casual as a 15-30 minutes Time alone with Mom (or Dad) each day. The point is to get something on your calendar and into your routine so that when life happens, you don’t sacrifice your time with your children. As a stay-at-home homeschooling mother this concept didn’t come naturally to me. I thought, “How much more time can I possibly spend with them?” But when I sat down and was honest with myself I realized that the majority of my time with my children was spent: teaching, instructing, directing, disciplining, feeding, bathing, driving to/fro etc. I wasn’t spending that much time just being with them. On the flip-side, their Road Warrior father who was out of town a lot made sure that when he was in town he spent time just being with them. As a result their time with their father stood out more in their mind. Ouch!
Celebrate their accomplishments and interests. Is your child interested in art? Do you have their artwork displayed in the house? Have you enrolled them in art classes? Do you keep them regularly stocked with materials for creating art? Are they interested in sports? Do you attend games and practices? Do you watch professional sports with them? Subscribe to a sports magazine? Do they love animals? Do you allow them to have pets? Take them to the zoo? I’m sure you see where I’m going. When you notice that your child has an interest or talent you should acknowledge that in some way while still leaving room for them to change interests and talents. The only rule in our household is that once you begin an activity you must finish it. We don’t allow signing up for ballet and quitting before the recital or attending 3 sport practices and then wanting to drop out and try another sport. We use the summer months as an opportunity to “test drive” some of our children’s interests through week-long summer camps in their area of interest before fully committing ourselves. This generally helps, but there have been times we’ve had to remind them they must follow through on their commitments and finish the year before we allow them to discontinue and try something else.