Despite being brought up by the same people, in the same environment it’s quite common for siblings to develop into very different characters. I mentioned briefly in my post The Quiet Man ,  the difference in my children’s characters and having spoken to other parents I know this is the case in a lot of families. It has come as no big surprise to me then that this is also the case regarding my children’s approach to learning.

Spud (7) is the logical one. Information goes in, is processed and documented accordingly. This is his brain:

Flump (5) however, well let’s just say she was never quite as interested in her ABCs or 123s. I mean what’s interesting about a bunch of letters and numbers right? Jigsaw’s? Pfff. Join the dots? SNOOOORE. Her brain looks like this, but with more glitter:

I have no doubts that she’s gonna get along just fine in life, she knows her mind, she’s independent, tenacious, funny, perceptive, did I mention tenacious? To be honest, I kind of admire her “Why would I want to do that when I can just get someone else to do the boring stuff for me” approach, however I know this is not going to do her any favours in the classroom.

When Spud started school he was more than ready for it. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying he’s a child genius, just that he has a natural interest in learning, or more specifically understanding things. How does it work? Why does this happen? He likes symmetry, order and logic. Plus he’s one of the oldest in his year so he has a big advantage over some of his classmates.

Obviously that’s great and entirely a result of  our excellent parenting and encouragement through his early years. Or so we may have thought until Flump arrived. One ‘Baby Einstein’ CD and a few phonics books from Poundland does not a boffin make apparently.  Nope, it seems we can take none of the credit when it comes to our son’s thirst for knowledge.

Now it’s relatively easy to encourage a child to be more creative, Spud likes Lego, Minecraft or K-Nex as they suit his little cuboid shaped mind, although if I sat him down with a bunch of crafty bits and NO INSTRUCTIONS he would definitely be out of his comfort zone. Trying to trick  encourage a creative child to think more logically however is a much more challenging task in my experience! How can I help my daughter approach learning in a way that sparks her interest and will give her the mindset she needs to thrive in the classroom and beyond? (This is a genuine question by the way, if anyone has any experience in this field then I’m all ears!)

It’s possible of course to achieve great things without a Masters in Quantum Physics  – literally change the world in some cases ( Shakespeare, Einstein, Churchill, Jobs all either poorly educated or dropped out of college) but like any parent I don’t want to see my child struggle through their school days any more than they need to.

It came as quite a relief to me then when I discovered a book by Hilary Wilce,”Backbone: How to build the character Your Child Needs To Succeed“. Unfortunately, it doesn’t have all the answers at the back (I checked), but it does describe “The 6 key qualities that children need to live a fulfilled and successful life” (tell me more!) and shows how parents can help their children develop these qualities. I won’t go into too much detail here as you can check out the link above for more info and the authors credentials etc but in a nutshell here’s what we’re looking at:

  1. Love – Feeling loved and connected allows children to comfortably develop links with others. Appreciating themselves as a valuable part of the world with their own unique talents and taking their place in teams, being led and leading. Appreciating the world around them.
  2. Resilience – A resilient child will make friends, ride out setbacks and develop a robust but flexible attitude, giving off an optimistic vibe to which others gravitate.
  3. Honesty – Living authentically builds trust and allows you to have good relationships with others. Being honest with yourself gives you a clear and balanced view of the world and your place in it.
  4. Self-Discipline – Children with better self-regulation do significantly better at reading and maths than those who give in to their impulses. It also helps to manage friendships and resist unhelpful peer pressure.
  5. Kindness – Having a kind, empathetic disposition lifts our mood, improves our health, boosts our image and makes us feel more positive and optimistic. 
  6. Courage – Mental courage (failing then trying again), moral courage (saying no to what is wrong) and steadfastness allow a child to live their life with resolution and direction.


The book explains in more detail the importance and relevance of the 6 values and what parents can do to encourage each one. It’s a thought-provoking read and for less than the cost of a glossy it’s certainly (sadly) more relevant to me than “30 cool ways to wear culottes” these days.

An interesting concept and whether or not it works in practice I think these are all values that we would like our kids to practice in life regardless. It’s also a very short book. I like short books. I mean what’s interesting about a bunch of words anyway?



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  1. Great principles. So thought-provoking that I am printing it off as I type!
    I have a chalk and a cheese. My 9 year old girl is the Minecraft, logical one who refuses to wear dresses unless it is a very special occasion. My 13 year old girl is caring, motherly and a complete fashion and makeup nut…I must be a disappointment to her because I’ve never even had a manicure or a fake tan and I really don’t like clothes shopping…I’m with the 9 year old on the dress thing too! #Marvmondays

    1. Ha ha it’s so weird isn’t it? Funny little people. Ah so glad you found it interesting, it’s worth a read (she says it way better than I did!) You can get it on Kindle too. Thanks for reading and commenting. 🙂

  2. So interesting and I can’t wait to meet my second child to see how much they differ from the first! Thanks for linking to #MarvMondays. Kaye xo

  3. Short books are the best, especially when on the subject of parenting! It is amazing how different children can be. I thin so when I look at or two. #twinklytuesday

  4. Oh what an interesting book – popping it on my list for sure! I too have very different children when it comes to learning – love your use of imagery in this post – was totally drawn to your daughter – reckon she’s going to have a whole lot of fun in life … your son sounds like mine – totally in to how everything works and wants to learn! Great read #passthesauce

  5. its down to such simple things isn’t it? i loved this post. we worry so much as parents about our children. and you’re grow up so very different. Me and my sister are so alike yet so different. Me the pragmatist, the black&white type of person and my sister the “law of attraction” kind of girl needing to understand why things happen and how and trying to grasp the universe…..thanks for sharing and ill bookmark that book for future reading.

  6. Yes! I got the rabbit pic! I love this. As a creative type myself, all I can suggest is to make learning fun and visual. I was predicted to do very well in school but then the classes couldn’t hold my attention and I started messing about more. My worst were maths and science but now, I love watching science experiments and ‘how stuff’s made’ and things like that. So the interest is there, I just found the straightforward I teach, you listen tough. Do maths with flowers in the garden and stick glitter to the periodic table! 😉 My two are very different characters too, I find it fascinating how that can happen. Thanks for linking up with us! #bigpinklink

    1. Hee hee, the rabbit 😂 Thank you for your suggestions and sharing your own experience with me, I really appreciate it. I think glitter on EVERYTHING might be the way forward with this one! 😄 Thanks for hosting.

  7. It is quite a challenge to stimulate and encourage each child as what works for one may not work for another. My children are so very different from each other, have different interests, learning styles and motivation and sometimes these are not as obvious from one child to another. I love those principles and I personally subscribe to those listed in the book. These values do epitomise success to me. Thanks for sharing with #PasstheSauce

  8. How funny, I’ve just written a post about how different my two girls are and whether it’s down to their different personalities or their position (eldest vs youngest) in the family. It’s strange how siblings can be so different isn’t it? I really like the sound of this book, will check it out. #CoolMumClub x

    1. It’s fascinating to watch, I can never quite understand it myself – funny little people! Yes have a look, think it was only £2.99 on Kindle. Thanks for reading and commenting x

  9. Haha! I love the photos you have used to depict your little ones brains 😜. Drat…and just for a second I thought I was responsible for little buttons creative way of thinking. The book sounds like a good read, thanks for sharing this. Right… off to find out where I can get a copy #FamilyFun

  10. I definitely need to get that book. I love learning, and I am desperate for Piglet to do so too, but so far he seems mostly interested in cars and sport, despite the fact that he’s not even two yet. I’m hoping that these prove to be compatible with his future life as a serious intellectual, but if not I will just have to accept that he is different to me. Oh well! Thanks for linking up with #FabFridayPost

  11. Oh I like the sound of that book, sometimes it hard to parent children with different personalities (as you describe your kids) in the same way. I like the list of principles too. Great post. #FabFridayPost

  12. That book sounds great – it’s funny how different siblings can be, there are 4 of us in our family and it’s so varying. My brothers had no interest at all in school, but since have found something they enjoy doing. Great post, very though provoking #fabfridaypost

    1. I guess it would be boring if we were all the same right? My brother and I were actually very similar to the way my two are now which I find really funny! Thank you so much and thanks for reading and commenting x

  13. I think your daughter will do just fine with the qualities you listed above! She might not enjoy the academic side of school, but it sounds like she has a zest for life and that’s pretty important!
    Thanks for linking up to #BloggerClubUK 🙂

  14. I think as long as you give and offer support they’ll do just fine. Me and brother are chalk and cheese. He was always perceived as brainy and me creative. Turns out with brainy comes lazy and with creativity comes work ethic! We both went to uni, I got the 2.1 he got the 3rd! I’m now perceived the brainy one! Lol!

  15. OK, I admit, I was attracted to your post by the big fluffy bunny! Glad I came over though, this was a very interesting and thought provoking read. Thank you #FamilyFun

  16. This is very interesting. I too love short stories – I can’t hold long enough attention span for a long period of time. That’s probably why I love blogging so much. It is short but sweet. My Ethan and Evelyn are a little too young to be compared to but Evelyn loves copying her brother so I tried to teach Ethan to behave himself at all time – that doesn’t seem to work though. haha Perhaps, she will take another kinder route. Thank you for the book suggestions I will need to check it out – sounds very interesting.

    Thank you so much for linking up with us on #FabFridayPost 🙂 x

  17. I quite often find myself fumbling through all of those qualities and yet wondering if i should just let her coast along and let her own character build her. Because then our little girl wouldn’t be our little girl and I’d never want to override that. it’s a hard one to call, for me anyway. It’s an intriguing topic that siblings can be so different! #TheList

  18. That sounds like a really useful book, it would be really good to know how to bring out those qualities…. Though surely some of those are ingrained just like the ability to learn words and numbers? But, I guess some can be nurtured as well. #justanotherlinky

  19. I love this. There is so much pressure to achieve the academic milestones, when actually the 6 values above really must underpin a child’s success as they grow and develop into adults. I’ve never seen a syllabus measure “kindness” or “courage”, but maybe they should! Great post x

    #justanotherlinky xx

  20. I can see my youngest being a lot like yours. His older brother has a really enquiringly mind and wants to know EVERYTHING… But I think my little one just wants to have fun.! I’ll have to do some reading too… #fortheloveofBLOG

  21. This sounds like a really interesting book. My boys are also very different. My eldest is very inquisitive and wants to know everything as well as soaks up information like a sponge. My youngest is really laid back and chilled out (also mischievous too!) Funny how they can be so different. #fortheloveofBLOG

  22. Thanks Charlie, really interesting post and I can’t believe that I haven’t come across your blog before! I can really relate to your post, as me and my brother were both quite intellectual (my brother more so than me), but my sister less so. We all turned out fine, and are all doing well for ourselves, but it is interesting as our parents would have raised us in the same way and with the same beliefs I’m sure. So it must come down to personality traits, I do wonder if there were any differences in personality between us when we were younger – that’s one to ask Mum. I would love to read this book, I like a book like this that gets under the skin of who you are – but that can also be quite scary too. For some reason the list reminds me of Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, things that we all need to strive in life. Thank you so much for linking up to #fortheloveofBLOG, I hope you party with us next week. Claire x

  23. Hi Charlie, before my daughter started school she wasn’t interested in learning to read and write properly. She loved books and words, but would make up her own stories when reading and read words as she wanted to and not as they read (she was stubborn little git). However once she started school she really excelled at reading and writings, so you never know Flump may surprise you yet!

    At the end of the day the people our children grow up to be is dictated by many things; the key qualities above playing a big part.


    1. That sounds just like Flump!! Yes, that’s true, it’s like planting seeds without knowing what they are the best we can do is nurture and encourage them along the way.Thanks for commenting x

  24. There is only 19 months between my two boys and they could not be much more different than each other in pretty much every way. It just goes to show just how much of your nature and learning capabilities are predestined from the start. Crazy!

    Thanks for linking up to #Picknmix
    Stevie x

  25. Well since I know how to wear culottes like a bomb, I suppose I should pick up this book for the benefit of my step son. I like to pretend my two daughters were just raised excellently and that is why they do well in school but actually I know I was just lucky. That said, despite said step sons ability to not grasp mathematics, he manages to entertain the whole class with his antics regularly – I’m sure there’s still a place in the work-world for people like him. We all have strengths and weaknesses.

    1. It’s funny how different they can be isn’t it? Oh there’s a place for everyone I think it’s just about encouraging their strengths to build the confidence to go out and show the world how brilliant they are!!! 🙂

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