Sunday, March 11, 2012

middle childhood and individuality

I am fortunate to have two boys in middle childhood right now, ages 7 and 8. I often compare and contrast my boys in their physical, cognitive, emotional and psychological development.  They are polar opposites of each other. My 8 year old is big and tall, has a hard time relating to others, is really good at math and spelling and is very emotionally sensitive. My 7 year old is short and very thin, is very popular, struggles in school and is stoic with his emotions. In our classes we are continuously revisiting the nature v nurture concept. I see my boys as the perfect example of how people are a product of both. It is very interesting for me to see what my 8 year old is doing now and how different it is from what he was doing a year ago. I see my 7 year old and know what to look forward to in the next year because of where his brother is at, but I know that even the same events will be met with different experiences.  Each of my children is unique. They have more differences than they do similarities even though they both grew up in the same environment. I have learned to appreciate these differences. When I became a mom the second time I just assumed that I would do the same thing with my second as I did with my first. It worked for the first, why not the second. But as my children grow, (and especially now that we have a daughter that is 4 years younger than my youngest boy) I am learning that being fair and being equal is not the same thing.  We hold our children to certain expectations but realize that they are individuals and so each situation should be handled individually.  For example, a few weeks ago my 8 year old went to his first sleep over. My 7 year old has been staying the night at friends’ houses for at least a year now. There was no blanket rule that says “When you turn 7, you can stay the night at a friend’s house.” That decision was made individually with each child. We look at the situation, the maturity level of the child and we consider how that child will handle that specific situation, and then make any decisions that need to be made. When the kids were younger it was easy to have a set of uniform rules. But as they grow each part of their personalities become more and more defined it becomes necessary to consider the individual qualities in each of my children.  

Amanda Tompkins


  1. I find it neat how parents can have more than one child be raised it the same house and yet be completely different. I know all children are different. My sister and i are 18 months apart and we are so different. She is tall with brown hair, and Im short with blonde. Our personalities are different, and just about everything else is. I agree this is nature vs. nuture at work.
    Sam Martel

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  3. It is so interesting that siblings that have a similar genetic makeup and also live in the same environment can be so different. I think it's awesome that you don't have an overall rule for the both of them, that you base the rule on the individual (the sleepover topic). That is something I wish my parents would have done
    April Wiland

  4. Nkechi Anyanwu
    It is important for parents to observe the individuality in their children, for one, it helps the child develop a healthy self-esteem. As the saying goes " all fingers are not created equal", all children do not grow or develop at the same rate with others. Some develop too early, some do slowly, and some develop at an ideal/appropriate level. However it is left for the parents to acknowledge these differences in their children and use it to help the child accept his/her unique nature. Parents can help their children sustain a healthy self-esteem by encouraging them to express their individuality. As children begin to crave and assert their individuality, their ideas about how to become independent are often shaped by both external and internal demands such as parents, peers,internal motives etc. Therefore when helping the child develop self-esteem, it is essential for parents to know that healthy self-esteem is a proper balance between the external and the internal voices.
    Nkechi Anyanwu