baby

"My toddlers' personalities are different, so I parent them differently."

Karicare+ Toddler
Thanks to our brand partner, Karicare+ Toddler

The type of mother you’ve learned to be for your first child is always a proud accomplishment. This of course builds a perception of what all babies are like, which you carry into your second or third child’s first year of life.

But how quickly you have to do away with this, come the toddler years. Only a year later – and the activities you have planned for your child, the way you’ll discipline them, parent them – can sometimes mean nothing upon learning how different the personalities of toddlers can be.

There was a time two years ago, in a sleep-deprived, pregnancy-induced state, I naively believed I had parenting toddlers figured out. I happily reasoned to myself that parenting my second child, my daughter, would be a much smoother experience than that with my first. After all, had I not just successfully navigated the onset of the toddler years with my son?

If only I knew then what I know now.

first year with baby

Mariela believed she had toddlers figured out. Enter toddler number two. Image: supplied.

My son, Lawrence, two years old at the time, had always been a mild-mannered, affectionate child. He is quietly curious, and rarely disobedient. He best receives direction in soft-spoken but firm instructions, and is ready and willing at any time to wrap his arms around loved ones.

Planning our days was easy, for whether we were spending mornings at the park, or afternoons among his toys, he was happy to go along with my suggestions.

For all I knew, the greatest struggle a mother of a toddler faced was sleep-deprivation, and difficult as that is, it was possible to counter with a strong shot of caffeine.

When my daughter was born, there was little to indicate my belief was wrong. As all babies, Eleanor slept, ate, and played. Life required a bit more multi-tasking, but I knew the baby routine well.

Then she turned one and outgrew her mild manners the way she outgrew her onesies. We’ve been playing catch-up ever since.

Eleanor, or Sassy McSass as she is affectionately known by in our household, and my son are each other’s perfect opposites. She is strong-willed, opinionated and particular about just about everything.

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My husband and I are proud of her obvious leadership skills, her older brother taken to following her every movement.

Everything you want your daughter to be as a woman; also everything difficult in an almost two-year-old whom you are trying so desperately to raise and discipline.

Mariela with her husband and children. Image: supplied.

We soon learned that soft-spoken but firm instruction compels our son to action, but incites a tantrum from our daughter. Sincerely, that girl employs the word “no” an inordinate number of times more than her brother every day.

In fact, nothing in the way of discipline has worked for our daughter the way it always has for our son. Instinctively heaping kisses and hugs on our son since birth as a way of affirmation and praise, we were taken aback that they were only welcomed by our daughter at her most tired or scared.

Instead, at the conclusion of a positive action, she prefers applause and praise.

Applause and praise. Girl after my own heart.

Parenting styles and disciplines are not one size fits all, as any parent of multiple children can attest. As we are often told, what works for one child may not necessarily work for another.

Though parenting in accordance to our children’s differences mean a lot more trial and error, and admittedly frustration, I happily concede I would not wish their differences away. The world needs the sensitive and thoughtful boy and strong-willed daughter my husband and I are privileged to raise.

In a few months, my husband and I will be welcoming our third child, a second daughter. Other than the fact that she is loved, all I know this time around is that I don’t assume to know what the reality of parenting her will be like.

How does your parenting style change for each child?