By Heidi Janit
Too often, parents compare their children to their other children. You find yourself saying” But John was so easy with potty training, and Michael just cannot get it right”. You may even sit and discuss it with your friends, saying things like “I don’t know what is wrong with my child, he is not like his brother at all”. Or that your first child slept through the night better and you just wish your new baby would do the same.
You may also compare your child to their peers. Perhaps a child in their class is more friendly, adapts to change better and even has more friends. You may think to yourself, “I wish Mary was more outgoing, why can’t she make friends like Tatum does?” Or why does Adam cling to me each morning when Zac just happily runs off to his playgroup?
What I am going to say to you now is very important: YOUR child is ENOUGH.
YOUR child has his/her own unique qualities and develops at his/her own pace. So what if potty training was harder for him than his brother? So what if the little girl in your daughter’s class manages fine motor co-ordination skills like threading beads better than your daughter? And so what if your little ballerina stomps around the stage when her mates are like graceful little fairies?
YOUR child’s personality is all their own. Shy, quiet, apprehensive and introverted is ok. As is outgoing, loud, independent and friendly. No two children are the same. They grow and develop at their own pace, they reach milestones at different times and they respond to their worlds differently. And that is ok.
Of course you can encourage and motivate your child to come out of her shell a bit. You can encourage and motivate your child to be a little more social. You can encourage and motivate your child to feel safer in his world. But you cannot mold your child to be like his brother. You cannot mold your child to be like her sister.
All you can do is expose your children to situations where they might gain some necessary life skills. You can sign them up to that ballet class that their sister shone in. But if your child does not turn out to be the ballerina her sister was – that is ok. Her strengths may lie in something else.
I am not talking about your child needing OT or speech therapy. I am talking about their personalities. Their strenghts and their weaknesses, their own little quirks, their own little personalities. Milestones will always be reached – don’t compare, don’t force and don’t judge.
When we compare our children to other kids, we are creating expectations that they may not reach. When we expect our child to be like his brother we are dismissing their unique personality and needs.
All you can do is set the stage for your child, see the props as their milestones, see the stage lights as your encouragement, and see the applause as your praise, love and acceptance.
And always remember: YOUR child is ENOUGH.