Today’s Tuesday Topic comes for Cindy, who asks a question that many of us grapple with (I know we do). How do we parent children with different levels of ability – not shaming or discouraging one, while also not holding other children back?
We have two bio kids ages 9 (girl) and 12 (boy), plus a foster kid aged 10 (boy) in between the other two that we have had in our home for over two years and are in the process of adopting. The bio kids are in advanced classes at school, catch on quickly, and are determined to work hard and succeed. Our middle child, however, struggles greatly with executive functioning and becomes easily overwhelmed even if something “seems” too hard for him or if it includes hard work of any kind. He has trouble with cause and effect and learning from natural consequences, but is far more capable than he believes and since he responds by far the best to positive reinforcement we practice it regularly to fill his bucket and show our love and care. There is always competition between the younger two – the youngest is just competitive and wants to succeed, while the middle one feels incapable and unlovable and gives up too quickly.
The gap between them is growing, and I would love to hear your thoughts on how to parent these kids that are in such different places emotionally, socially, etc. How do we allow the younger one do things the middle one isn’t ready for yet so as not to hold the younger one back but not make the middle one feel less capable. How much do we protect the middle one from things he’s not ready for yet versus letting him fall harder so as to learn through these experiences now before he gets to an age where we can’t be there with him as much. And what kind of resources are there for us to work with him to develop stronger executive functioning skills this summer as we work toward preparing him for middle school?
This is a very good question – from decisions about education, to when a child gets a driver’s license, how do we navigate their differences? They may even be the same age, but not able to have the same privileges and responsibilities.
I would love to hear your thoughts on this, or feel free to say that you don’t know the answer either, but you understand. Let’s encourage Cindy and see what we can brainstorm on this topic.
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Encourage one another,
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