Parents Likes Younger Child More than Older Child

Reader’s Question

Hello, I am a 22-year-old mother of two. I love my children very much, but I feel like I favor my youngest child, who is two. It seems like everything she does is cute and I love to do things with her. But although I love my older child who is four, I don’t enjoy doing things with her, and frankly she gets on my nerves. She is very “high spirited” while my younger one is more calm and basically like me. I don’t know what to do. I try to treat them equally but I secretly feel more connected to my younger child. I feel very guilty about this, and I don’t know if this is normal or not. How can I feel more connected to my older daughter? I feel like our relationship will suffer if this isn’t resolved.

Psychologist’s Reply

This situation is not unusual at all. If we think about it, you’re more comfortable with the child that is calmer and less stressful. As a young mother with two children, and as a person who is by nature calm and perhaps quiet, your older child has normal behaviors that will stress you out. Calm-personality folks are often overwhelmed by the level of physical activity, talkativeness, energy, and aggressiveness of a high-spirited four-year-old. Your older child creates more obligation, responsibility, and need for supervision than the two-year-old.

To feel connected with your older child, you need to develop enjoyment for the type of personality she has rather than allow it to produce stress in your life. If we think about it, she has a personality that is new to you. You’re not sure how to handle this high-spirited child. This may require you to develop some new parenting strategies and make some adjustments in your own personality. You may need to increase your energy output to keep up with the older child. This situation is completely normal however and most parents will tell you that no matter how many children they have, all the children will have a different personality. Many parents will tell you they have one calm, future brain surgeon and another “wild child”. The combination of personalities in your children will make your life as a parent very interesting. Enjoy the differences.

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