I Like One Child More Than the Other – HELP!

Favoritism. While it is perfectly normal to favor certain colors, foods and animals, when it comes to your kids, this is a practice that needs to be thrown out. Whether intentional or not, it can have an extremely detrimental impact on their mental health and wellbeing. So what do you do when your child starts questioning why My mother hates me, but loves my siblings“? Moreover, what practices can you implement in your home to help prevent this from ever happening?

How To Address The Favoritism Accusations

When this comment arises, it is best to address the topic head-on. Inquire why your child has come to this conclusion. Be positive throughout the exchange. Validate their feelings and then explain how this is a grave misunderstanding that you hope to remedy. Express that you love and cherish them and that you will make a better effort at showing them this sentiment.

Remember that the job of a parent is not to be a friend, but rather a provider, counselor, cheerleader and protector. You want to build a positive and loving relationship with your kids while still establishing your role as the disciplinarian.

Therefore, if the reasoning for your supposed favoritism relates to bad behavior from one child, reiterate the reason for this action. Moreover, take time to explain that there are consequences to bad behaviors and this should not be misconstrued as a reflection of your feelings towards them. 

However, if their belief is based on things you have said or done, make it a priority to find ways to work on restoring the bond. Here are some of the top methods for accomplishing this.

 Like One Child More Than the Other

How To Prevent Favoritism From Occurring

#1 – Maintain a Good Family Relationship

Many times the concept of one sibling being preferred over another is conceived because the one child has similar hobbies to the parent. For example, if a father and son both love baseball, they are likely to spend a lot of time together enjoying this pastime.

Without finding an activity for you and your daughter to do together, you may inadvertently make her feel as if you prefer him over her. Therefore, it is important to find shared interests with all of your children and to allot equal times to spend with each of them.

Balance is key in sustaining a cohesive family unit. A good practice is to allot individual bonding times as well as time for the entire family. Even just engaging in regular dinner time conversation can make a big impact on your child’s outlook. The goal should be to get to know your child better and to find common interests that can help to build your relationship.

#2 – Choose Your Language Carefully

Every child is different. You want to use positive reinforcement to motivate your children to succeed. However, you never want to use one kid’s achievements or actions to motivate their siblings. By creating comparisons, you imply that one person is better than the other, even if you don’t mean it that way.

Say for instance that your daughter is struggling with math. Instead of stating “Tommy was always a whiz at Algebra. With enough work you can get there too!”, rephrase the statement to focus the attention on the individual at hand. “Janie, your hard work is going to pay off and I am going to be here to help you along the way. What is the first problem we need to solve?” This can change how your comment is perceived and the way in which they move forward with the issue.

#3 – Implement Active Listening Daily

Active listening is the concept of fully focusing on the parties involved in the conversation. In order to achieve success with this technique, you must implement the use of positive non-verbal communication.

This includes consistent eye contact, open posture, and leaning forward. It is also important to remove all distractions during the exchange. Finally, the recipient must paraphrase or summarize the concern before transitioning to their response.

When using this communication technique with children, it is best to get down on their level. This allows them to feel less like they are being talked at, but rather included in the discussion. This also creates an environment of trust and respect.

#4 – Remain A Neutral Party

There will come a time when your children want to know who can do the best cartwheel or who is right in an argument. Unless someone is breaking a family rule, try to remain impartial. By choosing sides, you are essentially ranking your kids. At least that is how they will see it.

Competition is not something everyone can handle. By utilizing encouragement and praising their efforts and successes, despite who is better, you will make them feel validated and appreciated.

#5 – Tell Your Children That You Are Proud Of Them

The regular use of positive and uplifting language can increase your child’s self-esteem and confidence, strengthen the bond you have with them and it reinforces that you are always in their corner. This type of meaningful communication helps to lessen the feeling of favoritism and solidifies that you love and support every single one of your children.

There are many ways to show and tell your child that you are proud of them. Remember to note this sentiment for small and large accomplishments. By doing this, you will reinforce good behaviors and improve their mental health.

#6 – Money Matters

Financial favoritism can also be a cause for resentment among siblings and parents. Let’s say that your son plays hockey. This is a sport that costs an average of $7,000 per year and requires countless hours dedicated to games and practices. Even if your daughter has a hobby of her own, there is a chance that she will notice the difference in expenditures and equate that to the preference of her brother over her.

While spending the exact same amount of money is a trivial pursuit, find ways to foster her passions. If she loves art, buy her painting supplies and sign her up for classes to enhance her skills. Try to time these purchases around each other so they feel that equal investments are being made.

Final Thoughts — The Consequences Of Liking One Child More

Preferential treatment of a child can lead siblings to feel resentment, stress, and even depression. It can also trigger the development of self-esteem issues. This can cause behavioral problems later in life such as drug use, misconduct in school and extracurriculars, and inappropriate outbursts.

While it is likely never intentional, it is important to remember that children will interpret everything you do. Be conscious of your actions and the relationships you have with each of your kids. You never want your child to be questioning why my mother likes my sibling more than me.

Everyone wants things to be fair. Keeping rewards and punishments equal is a fantastic first step in avoiding the feeling of favoritism. However, time and praise are what matter most. Focus on learning your kids’ individual likes and dislikes and find ways to cultivate these passions.

Finally, there is always the chance that at some point in your child’s formative years, they will detest you no matter what you do. Don’t give up. By continually using these methods, they will overcome their teenage angst and your relationship will stay strong.