What You Need to Know About Goodness of Fit

Posted on January 11th, 2012, 0 Comments

Have you ever wondered why your neighbor’s kid seems to be doing better than your teen – even though you’re working as hard (if not harder) as a parent? Research examining goodness of fit provides some answers.

Children are born with genetically based differences that affect how they respond to their environment as well as their tendency and ability to regulate themselves. And it turns out that temperamentally different kids are affected differently by the same parenting.

For instance, studies have shown that, regardless of how they are parented, impulsive teens are more likely to get into trouble than their more self-regulated peers. But when parents of impulsive teens provide lots of structure, monitoring, and guidance, their teens get in significantly less trouble than they would have otherwise. Of course, teens with more self-control also benefit from good parenting, but their behavior isn’t as dependent on it, and they often thrive with less direct intervention.

My two kids are a good case in point. Each had unique abilities and needs, and raising them taught me that we parents often have to use very different strategies and degrees of involvement to get similar results. For example, as a middle schooler, my son benefitted from quite a bit of direct supervision of his study time. Together we defined a place, time, and duration for him to get his homework done, and I checked-in on him regularly. My more self-regulated daughter didn’t need this type of intervention and, in fact, would have resented it and probably rebelled.

Thus, even if you could treat each of your children in exactly the same way, chances are they’d respond to you in different ways and their experiences would not be the same. In addition, you’re likely to have one child who needs more of your attention, more of your time, and more of your help or resources. So rather than suggesting to your children that you’ll try to treat them equally, it’s wiser to assure them that you’ll strive to take their individuality into account and give each what they need.

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