My husband and I are raising two children…so far they’ve survived 16 & 12 years with us!
I’ve joked for years that we knew their temperaments within the first few moments after birth. Our son was born bright-eyed, looking around the room, making eye contact with everyone and ‘connecting’ with them on a personal level…if that’s possible at 3 minutes old. Our daughter was red-faced, screaming, avoiding connection with the strangers in the room, however quickly calmed when placed in her daddy’s arms or on my chest.
Many years later…our son continues to connect on a personal level, making eye-contact with those he’s relating to, and absorbing EVERYTHING he comes in connection with. He’s a bright kid who loves people. He enjoys the interaction and the ease of relationship associated with activity and getting to know new people. He’s a lot like me. Our daughter is also bright and loves to connect however, she ‘feels’ the world around her before she connects. She savors the touch of a trusted friend, family member, or teacher. She’s very loyal to those she loves. She’s a lot like her dad.
Think about the children you live/work with. Are they all the same – like you? Or are they each different – like someone else? How do you relate to each child without losing your mind?
I’ve done some reading on temperament over my years of practice and have found I love knowing more about how a developing mind works!
Temperament is all about who we are…who we were created to be…those quirky responses that stump even the most experienced parent or professional. But our temperaments can also be what get us in the most trouble. In a recent experience I watched a parent and child lock into two separate belief systems focused on the same goal. The parent believes you are doing your best if you keep your focus. The child believes you are doing your best if you take time to play in order to maintain your focus thus retaining information. Who’s right? Both! For this parent, a task may not be a success without complete focus. For this child, the task is a process and creativity will flow through the process thus reaching a level of success through experiences.
If we don’t spend time looking at the other person’s system of success, we say to the other person “you are wrong/stupid/unworthy/etc. and only my way will do”. Pay attention to the tone of your voice, meaning of your words & whether the child makes feels overwhelmed or avoidant. All of these signal you may be joining in a ‘temper’ament tantrum! Give yourself a break. Focus on what you want the child to do, take a deep breath, use a safe voice-tone and see the child for who he is rather than who you are.
Whether we see success as getting to bed on time, picking up a towel off the floor, putting a dirty dish in the sink, finishing a degree, buying a home, or becoming a professional athlete, each person reaches a goal by going down their own path!