This is part 2 of tip #14, as I neglected to say the most important part.
After much studying of children...
It is not enough to merely know about my children. I must attempt to understand their needs and ACT. By way of example, here are my study notes, followed by how I hope to respond to what I have learned. In the past I have referred to this as a "Hope Check." Maybe my notes will be better inspiration and stir ideas in your head.
Davis: Perfectionist. Thrives on words of Affirmation. Feels the pressure of being the one with significant homework, realizing that he must do it while everyone else plays. Easily overwhelmed by homework load (perfectionism). Has a lot to say. Motivated by money and TV. Booksmart. Functions only in a black and white, right and wrong, true (not make-believe) world.
Jackson: Loves fun. Easily distracted. Loves to please me. Competitive. Playful. Loves his brothers. Loves to play with friends. Motivated by money. Enjoys same things his dad enjoys. Intuitively smart. Lives a bit in a make-believe I-wish-it-were-this-way world.
Weston: Comical. tenderhearted. needs a great deal of control over his environment. Wants to be in charge (regularly tries to put Mom out of a job). Feel "beat up" by little brother quite often. Sees little brother's ability to share and/or not wreck his trains and car set up as hopeless. Increasingly wants to be considered one of the big boys. Doesn't get enough sleep. Doesn't have toys of his own, or toys he has claimed as favorite. Is rejuvinated by alone time.
Drake: Delights greatly when he knows you understand what he said or wants. Playful. Loves to see others laugh. Physical interaction (read: rough-housing) is favored activity above all. Recently landed in the world of "being two" and all the typical baggage that comes with that. Understands who is in charge and what submitting his will entails. Increasingly wants to do things for himself. Gathers toys to the point of his own frustration (try crawling up or down stairs with seven matchbox cars and two train engines - see what I mean?). Willing to risk a spank/crib time if it means getting a rise out of Weston.
After thinking carefully about what I am currently learning about each child, I pick one or two areas that I can concentrate on that will make a significant difference to that child so that they feel well loved, and hopeful about an area of weakness or frustration. This does not include enabling weaknesses or frustration, but rather is an opportunity for me to offer with great intentionality the grace, tenderness, understanding, and patience they need in that area. Sometimes my only goal is to avoid exaperating my kids: Fathers do not exasperate your children; instead bring them up in the teaching and instruction of the Lord. (Ephesians 6:4) I am pretty sure mothers are just as capable of exasperating...
Here are a couple of examples of my thoughts:
Weston: protect that relationship between him and Drake. Don't let them play together without supervision (the two goose eggs on Weston's forehead are evidence that Drake cannot be trusted!). Protect Weston and provide him plenty of opportunities to play without Destruct-o boy.
Drake: Be careful to distinguish playfulness and defiance. Only discipline defiance. PLAY with his PLAYFULNESS! Find him a little sack or box or something to carry his load in - will that delight him or further frustrate? Laugh with him. Be quick to discipline misbehavior toward Weston - keep a close eye!
The point is to find the needs (by studying!), think through how they might be met, and then give it a try!