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6 Little Things That Make a Big Difference

Spend Focused Time With Each Child

It's natural for siblings to compete for their parents' affection. But sharing your love is easier for your child to accept if he feels certain that he enjoys a unique relationship with you.

When parents are too concerned with being fair and spending equal time with each sibling, they may focus their energies on doing group activities as a family. While that's a good thing, remember that kids also crave some one-on-one time alone with you. Try to take advantage of the many daily opportunities to find out what's on your little one's mind. As tempting as it is to put your toddler to bed at the same time as his baby sister, give him a later bedtime so the two of you can enjoy a quiet half hour together. Or alternate which child goes with you on your errands, whether it's taking the dog to the vet or returning a video.

When my kids were young, I rotated which one came along when I went away on business. They loved those excursions with me. To them, it meant having my undivided attention as well as traveling on a plane and getting to order room service. Today, thanks in part to this, I'm rewarded by having a very special relationship with each one of them.

Another way you can make your children feel special is by avoiding comparisons ("Wow, you got ready faster than Taylor"). Instead, emphasize the positive attributes of each child ("I like the way you put away your books without my having to remind you"). And be careful not to label or typecast them ("Matthew's the athletic one; Sarah's the social butterfly").