I’ve found the last couple weeks that it is difficult to parent someone that has a totally different personality and priorities than you do. For good or for bad, Little One has a lot of similar personality traits to me. Since she’s the only child I’ve had (some) experience raising, it has been an entirely different story trying to parent our new three.
I am an oldest child. I strive for perfection in whatever I do, whether I like the activity or not. I am super competitive, I have to be the best. It is internal pressure. I used to read all the time. I was upset if I got less than 100% in class. I was not outgoing in class, but I made sure I knew all of the answers. I strove to be the teacher’s pet.
Now I have three children who rush through school work and don’t care if their answers are right or wrong. They have no priority in being neat and tidy or impressing the teacher. When I make them do additional work or redo the work they did incorrectly, they have fits, tears and tantrums. I don’t know if they are angry to do it again or ashamed they did it wrong in the first place. Could be a combination of both. I am anxious to see how they do in school this year.
Homework so far has been a trial of patience. One child is an over-achiever, who wants me to make up lessons for her at home because she has very little homework. She does this, not to excel in school, but to get as much of my attention as possible (I don’t mind). One child does homework perfectly but is sloppy and lacks focus with in-school work. This child has been flagged for additional in class help with reading accuracy. Lastly, one child has difficulty through every step of homework. Like this child has never learned the lessons in school and I have to teach it all over again. This child has also been flagged for out of class instruction in reading comprehension and has come home with less than stellar math grades so I fear an IEP is in the future for this child.
None of them are used to someone checking their work or helping them with homework. None of them are used to having someone check their assignments and making sure that they are on top of their studies. Being in homes with at least seven children, their moms were in survival mode trying to get dinner and baths to all the kids. I sit with all of them and monitor their performance both in and out of school. It is important to me and I feel like it is my responsibility to be a positive role model when it comes to learning, reading and school work.
I am also a very quiet person. I like my personal space. Little One is very similar in this aspect. She can be very outgoing once she gets to know someone, but she still likes for things to be on her terms. She is happy to play independently while I read or do work, with limited interaction or direction from me. I haven’t read the 5 Love Languages of Children, although it’s sitting on my nightstand (once I finally finish The Connected Child) but I believe at least two of the three new siblings are the type that have touch/affection as their love language. The third is attention/time. So for someone that is accustomed to keeping personal space unless invited, it is hard for me to have someone that literally follows me around talking and demanding attention (I enjoy the conversation most of the time but it is a true adjustment!).
I have always had a sensory deficit in the noise arena, certain noises just drive me batty and my husband can’t even hear them. So having a loud din at all times with children speaking in loud voices puts me over the edge. We have made lots of progress in the “use your inside voice” department. After I took away a minute from their bedtime every time they said “mom” in a sentence when it was not urgent or necessary, we have made progress on that as well. They were accustomed to using “mom” multiple times in a sentence to demand attention. I explained that when I make eye contact and stand next to them that there is no need to use my name consistently through sentences. It’s still taking quite a bit getting adjusted to no personal space (not that you have much with a three year old but it’s still different than four!).
I guess this is just to help all of you still waiting or wondering what the transition will be like. It will certainly be rough at first but you will get used to differing personalities and preferences!