Different strategies for different kids
The boys are currently 12 (Polar Bear), 5 (Monkey) and nearly 3 (Ton).
As they grow it appears they are more and more different from one another, and as such, they require very different parenting strategies. The basis for my parenting is PDA strategies, but even these need to be adapted for each individual child.
The factors that play a part in my parenting
Their ages obviously have a large factor in the strategies I use, since Polar Bear is many years older than Ton he has a far better understanding of things so I am able to explain why some demands are neccessary, while Ton struggles to understand.
Monkey’s speech is still lagging, while his understanding and hearing are good, there are still communication difficulties at play that affect the strategies I can use. Ton struggles to both speak and hear what I am saying, he relies heavily on non-verbal communication. While non-verbal communication is effective with him, it does impact the strategies I use and there is only so much one can communicate without speech.
Emotions are a big factor as well. While Polar Bear is quite mild natured with occasional bursts of anger, Monkey is frequently up and down, going from happy to angry or sad in seconds. Ton is usually happy and easy going, sparking into upset only when he is stopped from doing something. These differences in emotions, the frequency and severity of changes all factor in to how I need to proceed in any given situation.
Age, again, is a factor in regards to ability and expectations. Ton has few expectations placed on him and few are expected by society, whereas Polar Bear has far more and Monkey has somewhere in the middle. No one expects me to have to dress, feed and bathe Polar Bear while most would expect me to have some degree on input in these for Ton. These expectations place greater demands on the older kids and mean I need to use more strategies to manage these expectations than I would for the younger ones. At the same time the younger two require more supervision due to their age and they have less freedom than Polar Bear has. While Polar Bear could easily go out to the shop if he so wished, Monkey and Ton must ask and be escorted, which means using strategies to handle such an outing, especially if a trip to the shop is unviable at the time they wish it to happen.
Experience, both mine and the kids, impacts on the strategies I can and cannot use. I’ve known Polar Bear for 12 years now so I know what does and doesn’t work, trial and error has taught me much. All those years has also taught him some things, some strategies are harder to use because he sees through them because of past experience of me using them, this makes it harder. Similarly, I’ve not known Ton for as long so I am still finding what works and doesn’t, the bonus is that any strategies I try will be new so have more chance of working.
Personality will always play a large part, so it’s important that I adapt to their individuality. Monkey is a bit of a comedian so playing to this side of his works a treat, whereas Polar Bear is more of an intellect so sticking to the facts works better.
Things like patience, ability to problem solve, inclination towards compliance, intelligence, birth order, individual needs, comorbids, level of anxiety, need for control, hobbies and interests, personal feelings towards me, amount of recovery time required, ect all play parts in what strategies will work and which won’t. These and more all need to be taken into account when dealing with each child and they will vary in each individual situation as well.
It certainly keeps me on my toes.
I’m sure as they grow up the factors that influence my parenting will change, and with that I may need to adapt my parenting to match. We haven’t yet hit puberty, for example, something that will definitely affect my choice of strategies. The large age gap will likely affect the kids too as one day Polar Bear may leave the household to make his own way through the world, this will impact the younger two and I will need to prepare for how this may affect them and my parenting. Similarly, while parents never fully stop parenting their offspring, when they reach adulthood the strategies they use to communicate and work with them does need to change, so this will affect my parenting strategies as well.
For now, I will concentrate on detailing (in seperate blog posts, for ease) the different strategies I currently use, and ones I don’t, for each individual child, starting with Polar Bear.