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Becoming a Kolbe Certified™ Consultant  | July 17th at 12 PM ET 

Do Parents Have a Favorite Child?

May 18, 2023

  • Kolbe A™ Index
  • Podcast
  • Relationships
  • Student Aptitude Quiz

We may have cracked the code on why some children feel that way and what you can do to avoid it. 

Anyone with a sibling knows who the “favorite child” is. 

Every parent of more than one kid claims there IS no “favorite child.” 

So, who’s telling the truth? Did the Bradys really like Jan and Cindy as much as they liked Marcia? How do you make sure all your children feel like Marcia Brady and none of them feel like Jan? 

The answer may surprise you. 


It’s hard to argue there’s an unconscious bias on things we’re so conscious about. Some parents share predilections and personalities with a certain child, of course. Others may connect more with one offspring than others in intellectual endeavors. But we’re so aware of our cognitive thoughts and affective preferences that most concerned parents can easily regulate their behaviors to make all of their children feel special. 

But what about the third part of the mind? 

That’s right! There are three parts of the mind, and most people don’t even think about the third. 

The three parts of the mind are: 

  1. Affective (feeling)
  2. Cognitive (thinking) 

3. Conative (doing) 


We all instinctively take action in our own ways; when gathering and sharing information, when organizing, when dealing with risk and uncertainty, and when dealing with space and tangibles…we each have our own set of natural strengths. 

The Kolbe A™ Index actually measures these strengths and delivers a 4-number MO (modus operandi) that conveys how each person naturally takes action. Everyone has equal strengths, but they can be very different.  

And (you guessed it!) MOs are not genetic, which means parents often have very different ways of operating than their children. 

Many parents have an unconscious bias on the “right way” to do things. After all, that’s how they deal with problems, and it’s worked for them. But their kids may have a completely different way of solving problems when free to be themselves. When two individuals have a significant difference in their MOs, it can often create conflict, whereas those with similar MOs often collaborate with fewer constraints. 

So, imagine the impact this can have on a child whose parents have expectations that don’t match the child’s natural strengths and innate ways of problem-solving. It can make everything from household chores to completing school assignments significantly more stressful.


Elizabeth Cook has dealt with claims of favoritism among her children for years, and she always thought it was silly…until she had a breakthrough with Kolbe.  

“I have three daughters who are all adults now that are between the ages of 20 and 23,” she explained on the Powered by Instinct podcast. “And one of my daughters has always said for years that two of them think one is the favorite child. And my husband and I have always argued against that and have wondered, ‘Where is that coming from?’ And we’ve looked at every other explanation for why they’re saying that.” 

There was nothing in their academic performance, nothing in their hobbies, or even what they liked. There was nothing that would indicate why two of the sisters were both so certain that the other sister was their parents’ favorite. 

And then Elizabeth became a Kolbe Certified™ Consultant and had her whole family take the Kolbe A Index.  

“And on the Kolbe,” Elizabeth explained, “it was so clear why the two kids thought the third was the favorite.”  

She and her husband are almost conative twins. They’re just one number apart in two Action  Modes® (ways of naturally operating). And the “favorite child?” 

“She is almost exactly like us, particularly in how she deals with risk and uncertainty.”


The two “non-favorite” children instinctively initiate problem-solving by experimenting, brainstorming new ideas, and innovating. They get to the bottom line and move on. Both parents and the perceived “favorite child” have a need to specify. They naturally gather a lot of information before acting and resist change for the sake of change. 

“So naturally,” Elizabeth adds, “in terms of parenting, when they’re making decisions and trying to solve problems, and two of them are jumping in and figuring it out as they go and not making the plan, and my husband and I are getting all of the details and making the plan and removing the uncertainties along with the ‘favorite child’, it looks like…” 

She pauses. 

“I suppose we were biased towards her approach because that just made sense to us. For both of us, that’s how we approached it, and that’s how she did as well. So of course, it was rational, it made sense. It seemed like she was moving in the right direction. Whereas with the other two, we were more frustrated.” 


The good news? Just like with the other parts of the mind, understanding is most of the battle. How do you avoid giving your child bad advice and creating conflict without realizing it? There is an incredible resource that will make a tremendous difference. 

The Student Aptitude™ Quiz helps students discover their Authentic Abilities. This assessment for kids aged 10+ provides immediate, individualized results they can access at any time.  

In addition, you can purchase the Kolbe Parent Guide™ Report, which is an easy-to-follow online resource that aids parents and caregivers in supporting their child’s striving instincts. Parents learn how to recognize and honor their child’s instinctive strengths so that they can provide support with solving problems, improving communication skills, and increasing the opportunity for personal success in school, extracurricular activities, social situations, and at home. 

When you are able to understand your MO and the MO of others in your lives (like your partner and kids), the conflict mostly goes away. You’ll still have moments of misunderstanding. That’s just parenting. But now you’ll have a detailed blueprint on how you and your kids naturally operate, helping to ensure that every child feels like the “favorite.”  

A great first step is to have the children in your life take the Student Aptitude Quiz. And if your kids are over 18? It’s never too late to learn about your instinctive strengths have them take the Kolbe A™ Index   

Take the Kolbe A Index

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