Q&A: Youngest daughter resisting our discipline


Our second child is almost three years old. She doesn’t respond to any of the parenting strategies that worked well with her older sister. We’re stumped and stressed – what are we doing wrong?

Answer: This is really about adapting to the differences from person to person. Many parents think raising children is like a baking recipe – use the same ingredients every time, and the cookies always come out the same, right? We know that’s not quite the case.

Children are individuals. They don’t all share the same talents, aptitudes, and perceptions. Just because Son #1 is capable of straight A’s, that doesn’t mean you can expect his brother to achieve the same. And one daughter may be a great athlete while her sister might be a brilliant musician. Each child has his or her own way of viewing, interpreting, and engaging in their world. 

Treating each child the same way makes sense to us because we think we’re being fair. It may be fair, but it’s not really the most effective. Core values – honesty, respect, etc. – should be expected of everyone in the home. But that leaves plenty of room to tailor your expectations to your child’s personality. Push some children to work harder in school, and they’ll rise to the challenge. Others will struggle even more. Some children thrive under rules and discipline. Others rebel at the slightest form of discipline and may require a more creative approach to correction.

You have to study and know each of your children, and invest the time and energy to connect, correct, and redirect them according to what motivates them as an individual. For more ideas, explore our Resources.

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