Should you treat all children the same? — Scope | Disability forum
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Should you treat all children the same?

motherscuffer Member Posts: 27 Courageous

Motherscuffer is a mum of 6 and shares her life with her family on instagram, today she talks about whether you should treat all children the same, or whether they need individual care based on their needs and character.

I grew up as part of a large family, I was the youngest of four and I was often told by my older siblings that I was spoilt and didn’t have the same responsibilities as them. This is possibly true, I don’t really know. But as a child it feels like it’s not fair that you’re not all treated the same. Perhaps they remember having jobs to do when I was too little to start having any.

I’m now a mother of 6 children, one of whom has additional needs and I’ve realised that it’s not possible to treat all my children the same.  I can try and be fair with them, but that’s a different thing.

My biggest lad has left home now, but I still have 5 little ones at home ranging in age between 3 months and 8 years. My 8 year old is quite highly strung and can be fairly difficult, whereas his 6 year old brother is easy going and eager to please. My 8 year old needs a clear routine that is fixed in place, if it’s like that and he knows the rules he can’t argue (and blimey he likes to argue).

Every day they can have an hour each playing on the tablet, we use a kitchen timer and when the time is up they’re often reluctant to stop. With my 8 year old I need to use the threat that he won’t get computer time the next day if he doesn’t turn it off, whereas with my 6 year old I can just say “I’m going to count to 3…” and always by the time I get to 2 he’s stopped playing.

image of mum and six children smiling outside in winter

With our 4 year old, who has additional needs, our approach is different again. I tend to give him more warnings that his time playing is coming to an end and then when it’s time to turn off the tablet I will say “do you want me to turn it off or do you want to do it?” He needs limited options and likes to do things himself so doing it this way means he always chooses to turn it off himself.

This is just a small example of how we approach things generally on a daily basis, they all get the same amount of time to play, so perceive that it is “fair”, but I know I have to approach them each differently due to their differing personalities and needs.

Perhaps my children will feel how my siblings did, my mum agrees that she treated us differently, for the same reasons I do my children, but she always tried to be fair with us all. Maybe they will only understand why when they grow up and have their own children. I suppose my point is that it’s OK to approach your children differently, and it’s OK to explain to them why you do, they will understand even if they don’t always like it at the time.

What do you think? Is it possible to treat all children the same? Or is it OK to adopt a different approach each time? 


  • Geoark
    Geoark Member, Scope Volunteer Posts: 1,384 Disability Gamechanger
    Personally I have never understood the notion that children should all be treated the same. For one thing it overlooks that each child is an individual and have their own personality.

    As you mention this means that they respond differently, learn differently and particularly post primary school are likely to develop different interests. While they certainly will have different interests before this once they go to secondary school their lives are less controlled and they start having greater freedom and choice.

    I do believe there is a different set of dynamics which can come into play with larger families. In part I think parents become a lot more relaxed, but also there are changes in lifestyle and attitudes. Often resulting in younger siblings having an easier ride.

    As an individual I stood alone.
    As a member of a group I did things.
    As part of a community I helped to create change!

  • Nystagmite
    Nystagmite Member Posts: 603 Pioneering
    You can't treat all children all the same. Partly because of the age, we're all individuals (disabled and non-disabled) and of course, if you're a disabled child, you're sometimes going to have to be treated differently.
  • Sam_Alumni
    Sam_Alumni Scope alumni Posts: 7,676 Disability Gamechanger
    I have three kids and they are all so different!!! I have to treat them differently as they are so individual, their needs, their character and how they respond to things are so vastly different that Id be doing them a disservice to try and treat them all with a one size fits all approach.

    My eldest child is stubborn, he loves to debate and argue and is very vocal (people say he is just like me :wink: ) - our 'discussions' often end in raised voices and we butt heads a lot.  Though we also know how to make up quickly, we can be shouting one second and laughing and having a cuddle watching tv the next!

    My middle child is so sensitive, they like to share their feelings and need lots of reassurance and support. We talk about EVERYTHING, they talk to me about sex, feelings, stress, the future, there is no topic off the table. If I raised my voice at them, they would be in tears and be absolutely distraught.  

    My youngest is quiet and going through puberty so is feeling self conscious and wanting a lot of privacy.  If I tried to talk with him in the way I do my middle child, I think he would explode in embarrassment!!!

    There is two years between each of them, they were all raised exactly the same, but are so different and so I think it is my job as a mum to adapt to them and their needs. 

    Saying that, I think you learn with your first child, and so I was probably tougher on him than the others where I am more relaxed and chilled out.  My eldest was my first child to go through everything and so the things I stressed about with him and then realised that it was fine, therefore when the others did the same things I knew it would all be ok!  He does say that the youngest gets away with things he never would have and I think he is probably right!!

    Great post @motherscuffer !!!
    Senior online community officer
  • CaderMac
    CaderMac Member Posts: 105 Pioneering
    We always joke in my family that when my younger sister was diagnosed with T1 diabetes she became my mum's favourite child.... In reality, my mum just has additional reasons to fret and worry about Karys now!!! 

    My mum loves us both and has always treated us equally (every Christmas she makes sure she spends not only exactly the same amount but also that we have exactly the same number of presents to unwrap) but because my sister is now living with a chronic illness, there are definite differences in how mum treats us because at not only are we very different people but we have very different needs, my sister needs some level of support (practical, medical or emotional) with her diabetes 24/7. 

    As @Sam_Scope said, a one size fits all approach simply doesn't work when all children have their own personalities and especially when they have additional needs of any kind! 
  • Topkitten
    Topkitten Member Posts: 1,285 Pioneering
    There is a difference in people's expectations and definitions. Yes, you can treat them equally and therefore thee same but you cannot treat them identically. That may sound like splitting hairs but then each parent will have different ideas regarding the rules, regulations and punishments required to raise a child anyway. Each child will be treated with the same set of rules as defined by the main carer or parent, hence in the broad strokes they are all treated the same, However, each is an individual and will respond differently to those rules and it is at this point the differences will intrude, in the details. All children though expect things to be identical because they aren't subtle enough to perceive the differences at a young age. So, when the details are different they see it as being treated differently.

    "I'm on the wrong side of heaven and the righteous side of hell" - from Wrong side of heaven by Five Finger Death Punch.
  • mandy46
    mandy46 Member Posts: 30 Connected
    I'm a mother of 8 ( two sets of twins).
    I tested them the same to a point but their individual personalities made certain times difficult to do so.

  • TheKLF99
    TheKLF99 Member Posts: 17 Connected
    edited January 2018
    Everyone is different.  Everyone has different fingerprints, and different personalities, traits, etc that all make up the person - some people are destined to be space explorers whilst others just like the simple stay at home life.  Because of this it's impossible to assume you can treat every person the same, and that is the same for kids.  You have to tailor the experience for each kid.  When I recently helped with a Christmas party with a bit of a disco for the scouts we had so many different children there, we had one that was interested in what all the buttons do on the DJ deck, we had one that wanted to play with the smoke machine all night - naturally I did make sure he was safe and it was only water based smoke so it's not that dangerous, we had one that wanted to sing along and one that wanted to dance, and one that wanted to stay away from it all.  I know in a disco situation really all the kids should be dancing and none should be playing with the DJ equipment or smoke machines, but at the end of the day I adapted the night so all the kids were able to do what they wanted to do (within reason - like when one wanted to put a bag on the smoke machine and capture the smoke I had to put my foot down then due to safety!) and enjoy themselves.  Some of them got to dance, some of them got to play and learn new skills and others had a relaxing quite time away from the noise - the most important thing was the kids enjoyed themselves in how they wanted to enjoy it.
  • brian4077
    brian4077 Member Posts: 11 Listener
    I have 3 grandkids all boys 1 is austistic all are different in personalities and have different needs or wants even tho i love them  i try to treat them all fairly to thier needs individually and it seems to work as there is no fighting or arguing among them 
  • Sam_Alumni
    Sam_Alumni Scope alumni Posts: 7,676 Disability Gamechanger
    mandy46 said:
    I'm a mother of 8 ( two sets of twins).
    I tested them the same to a point but their individual personalities made certain times difficult to do so.

    Wow!! 8 kids and two sets of twins!! That's amazing!! :D
    Senior online community officer
  • foxuk
    foxuk Member Posts: 102 Pioneering
    Equally is different than the same. 

    To each according to their needs,
    From each according to their abilities.

    This is where an old socialist runs and hides..... BUT it is the fairest way.

    N.B. I am smiling as I write this, tongue in cheek....
  • mandy46
    mandy46 Member Posts: 30 Connected
    I was supposed to say *treated* not tested ...stupid phone.
    Thankyou....x they were all funny kids...helped their mum my was bonkas too.....I never ever smacked them or shouted at um. I used to just say no and explain why....always worked for me. My one twin daughter has autism ....She was hard work tbh but she was treated the same as the others. 


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