Attending to each child’s need is tricky no matter the number of children living at your house. Life gets busy, kids get involved in many activities, careers wear us out, and the grind can make it so that we don’t get to spend enough time with each child. I’ve mentioned before that my three children fit into stereotypical birth order like a glove. My oldest feels propelled to save the world, be a sports prodigy, and tell his brother and sister what to do. My middle will never get enough attention to suit his needs. Yet he soldiers on to be a vital part of our household operation, and he provides us endless fun. My daughter gets the double privilege of being the youngest AND being the only girl. It almost puts her to “only child” status. Almost. I regret to report that there are times my kids’ purposes get lost in the shuffle of the grind. With three kids, it can be hard for me to give each child their individual attention. Part of me feels like this is fine. No one needs a society member who thinks the world revolves around their wants and needs, but then the mom guilt comes in, and I want each of my babies to know how important they are to the family. So we have some solutions to the lack of one-on-one attention problem.
The best times we have are the ones where each kiddo gets his or her time in the light. Whenever I get to have one-on-one time with any of them, I get to appreciate them so much differently than when they’re in our big group. It’s so interesting to talk to them when they are alone and aren’t fighting for attention from the other siblings. I will take one to the movies, take another to a game, or shop with another. No matter what we do, they seem to really love the one-on-one time. I know this will change soon enough, so any time we can get a date in, we do it.
Sometimes we question what we’re doing on this earth, and I know kids do the same. A way that my husband and I like to celebrate our kids is to find how they enhance our family unit. We are careful not to pigeon-hole them in any category, but it is fun to celebrate how they add to our family. Our oldest is the leader. Sometimes he leads responsibly, and sometimes a little aggressively. We appreciate how he makes the others feel included. Our middle guy is an artist in all things. He is hilarious; he appreciates the same kind of music I do; and he is literally an artist. It’s amazing to watch him work with any medium, but his favorite so far is following an artist on YouTube while he makes an exact replica on his own paper. Our youngest daughter has strong opinions but a sensitive heart. She will say it like it is, but she also feels every emotion when dealing with people, stories, animals, etc. She’s so smart, and we love what she adds to the group. We often talk about these roles, and the kids seem to enjoy their individual purposes. I can’t wait to see how they grow.
Celebrate what Each Child Loves about the Other
What started as a sort of punishment for poor car ride behavior ended up being a blessing in disguise. One kiddo yelled at the other one for something small, and then the whole car was in an argument. As I was driving this grumpy crew, I told the first offender that he owed his brother an apology, and he needed to say three things he loved about his brother and sister. He had a shaky start, but he was able to mumble, “He makes me laugh, he’s smart, and he’s sort of fun to be around.” That was good enough for me. Since the first round went so well, I made each of the kids do this. What they came up with was so sweet and honest, it was hard for them to remember why they were arguing in the first place. For our five minutes of calm, we celebrated each other. I found out that it doesn’t work day after day, but periodically, we do have a car ride celebration of this sort. It helps each one of them know how awesome he or she is, and no fighting occurs during these moments.
Giving each child his or her time in the light is important. They are individuals who deserve one-on-one attention every now and then. When date nights or alone time aren’t possible, getting the whole crew involved in family discussions of purpose and praise often leads to smiles. How do you individualize attention for each child? We’d love to hear on our Facebook or Twitter.