As parents, we can easily find ourselves approaching all of the children in our home using the same parenting techniques, regardless of their unique personalities and histories. Staci terms this idea as the “Hot Dog Effect,” which can cause significant challenges in families. Today on Coffee with Chosen, we encourage you to regularly check your assumptions to meet the unique needs and challenges of your children.
The Hot Dog Effect
Good morning and welcome back to coffee with chosen my name is Staci.
About 20 years ago, I was parenting a toddler who did not like to eat food with certain textures. For this little girl the entire meat group was eliminated from her diet simply because she didn’t like the texture of it. Pretty desperate to make sure that she was getting enough calories and nutrition and iron. I was always trying to get her to eat a little bit of chicken or beef but that was a shall we say big challenge. So, I tried not to worry about it and I instead focused on vegetables fruit cheese and peanut butter because she would eat that stuff.
As a result, the typical toddler diet of chicken nuggets and hot dogs just wasn’t a fit for our house fast forward a few years later my husband and I adopted another child this child loved meat she happily ate the chicken nuggets and the hamburgers that the first child rejected. I went along my merry way feeling like a superhero when the two little people around our dinner table ate what was actually on their plates well one day we went to a county fair I will never forget it the child who loved me was about three and a half and she saw my husband buy a hot dog she saw it and asked for a bite she loved it so much [ __ ] that she ate the whole full-on hot dog and he had to go buy another one for himself. I remember standing by the Ferris wheel in complete disbelief. I was astonished that my child would be scarfing down a hot dog and looking around for a second one why in the world would I be shocked and awed by this after all it’s not a phenomenon that a three-year-old was liking a hot dog. In fact, it’s more common for a three-year-old to like a hot dog than to not like a hot dog.
Well, I was viewing both of my children at that time through the lens of my first child, but my two girls were very different. This example that I call the hot dog effect is a silly one, but it was a wake-up call for me that I needed to treat my girls as the unique individuals that they were we can easily fall in the trap of approaching all of the children in our homes. In the same way some parents who have both biological and foster or adopted children in their homes understandably want to use the same parenting techniques for all of the children regardless of their histories doing this can cause significant challenges in families.
We need to approach our children as unique individuals with unique histories and unique stories. The histories of kids who have experienced abuse neglect grief and loss affect them differently and result in different behavioral challenges checking our assumptions regularly will help us avoid lumping children into the same category even if you’re fostering a set of siblings who came from the same first family consider for a minute a child that you’re struggling to connect with right now is that struggle coming from an expectation that is realistic for one child but completely out of out of line for another one. Are you approaching your children with keeping in mind that they have different personalities when you have several or even many children this can be a challenge?