how do you handle "favourites"?

Early on in my parenting career (does it count as a career? I think yes.), I had a hunch that I didn't want my kids to have many FAVOURITE things. Don't worry American friends, I'm not spelling that word wrong. We love our U's in Canada. Anyway, favourite things. With kids, it just seemed dangerous to me from the get go, and I still basically feel the same.

Before I go any further, let me point out that my older two kids both have lovies. A plush toy and a blanket respectively. And they each have favourite shows. And colours. So even though I don't like the concept, I'm kind of living it anyway.

But here's the lie I believed and still believe. Oh, it's so great that she really really loves this one thing! That he has chosen something to really attach to. But then, that one thing isn't available, or in the wash, or Netflix takes it off the air, and I realize, NO. Favourites are kind of the worst.thing.ever.

Because then the kids refuse what's not their favourite. And suddenly it's not the one thing they prefer, it's the THOUSANDS OF OTHER THINGS they can't live with. Won't try. Don't want.

So what can a parent do? I have always consciously avoided favourite colours with the kids. When Lily was a baby I was really adamant about her not wearing pink all the time. Not because I hate pink - I actually love many shades of pink. But because I didn't want her to grow up believing that just because she was a girl, she had to love pink. Or purple. Same with Oli, with blue. And that worked really well for a while. The day Lily announced that her favourite colour was blue I probably shed a tear of joy and pride. But that was short lived, and now she is a pink girl despite my best efforts. And anyone on my instagram feed knows Oli has an unusual obsession with orange.

And though my kids don't watch much television at all, and have still never seen a franchise movie (or anything Disney, I know, I'm that mom, please don't hate me), they already have their favourite characters. Thomas, Dora, Madeline. It's like it was literally love at first sight.

One thing I did recently was clear out the plastic IKEA dishes set which was every colour of the rainbow and replace it with simple, white dishes. I was just so tired of the disappointment when the orange plate wasn't clean or trying to convince them that they still like turquoise or yellow. I gave them all away, picked up four of these side plates, bought these jars for glasses, and employed some vintage shallow bowls I'd had forever and now that's the kid's dishes. White, basic, cheap, simple, and no options for favourites.

I think choosing preferences it part of our natural instincts, but how can we tone it down so that a kid's favourites aren't so strong that they can't enjoy other things? Thoughts?


  1. Anonymous21.8.14

    Hey em,
    Interesting post. I only have a 9 month old son at the moment, so favourites haven't really begun here yet. But good to think about and be aware for the future.
    I would love to know your reasoning behind not watching any disney, if your'e happy to share? I only ask as I really admire the way you parent and think through different issues with your children.
    Amy Montgomery

    1. I will definitely post about that some day Amy! It's not specifically Disney (though most of their movies fall into the category), it's franchise movies with certain themes and messages :)

  2. Anonymous22.8.14

    Maybe I can back you up with our poor example. My oldest daughter decided right around her third birthday that her favorite color was purple. It was cute at first, but then it hit an extreme. She would only color with the purple crayon. She refused to eat (like literally skipped entire meals) if she couldn't have her purple bowl. She had to wear purple, not just a purple shirt, but everything purple: shirt, pants, sweater, socks, shoes. And anytime purple didn't happen in any of a million different categories (when we refused to cater) there was a meltdown, a screaming, crying meltdown. NOT acceptable. She finally grew out of that phase after a year, but it was a constant battle.
    My advice in hindsight: Do not let a favorite color invade every sphere of life! I should not have allowed her to eat out of a purple bowl every meal. I should not have allowed her aunt to buy her those (super cute!) purple boots. She didn't need purple sneakers or purple stuffed animals or purple craft supplies. I think the more we all indulged her favorite, the more of a monster it became. My personal conclusion: Favorites are fine as long as they aren't exclusive.
    Really interested to hear other ideas. We have two more to get through that phase! :)
    Alyssa Kuiper

    1. oh man... hindsight is such wisdom eh!? but then it's too late waaaa :(