We know the dangers of playing favorites with our children (sibling battles and bruised egos, to name a few). But it turns out showing just the slightest preference can cause kids to partake in some risky business. A recent study suggests that children who believe they are the "less loved" sibling are more likely to smoke, drink, or use drugs as teenagers. When delving deeper into cause, lead author Alex Jensen found that children of less engaged parents were more likely to feel they were the least favorite, and therefore act out.
"When the warmth in the family was high, then the favoritism didn't matter so much," Jensen tells Today.com. To combat feelings of favoritism, Jensen suggests parents act the same toward all their children. Of course, there is a fine balance between showing your children equal attention and affection and treating them the same.
"You have to treat them as individuals," Jensen says. "But then you have to take care to help them each feel loved."
Want more details from the study? Get the full story at Today Parents.