What’s your child like? Is he or she a drama queen? Or is she like a duck in water, letting anything that bothers her roll right off her back? My children are total opposites. One writes EV-ER-Y thing she is feeling on her Facebook for the world to see, leaving all of our relatives to call and ask, “Is she okay, what happened? She sounds depressed!” She is intense! My other daughter keeps her feelings inside and pretends like her world is perfect at all times. What’s a mother to do?
What this mom does is to keep in mind that these two blossoming little girls are each growing into their own person. They have their own temperaments: their behavioral style, how they deal with stress and how they interact with others. As long as I remember that, all is well in my little corner of the world. Knowing your child’s temperament can make such a difference in many aspects of parenting your child. You probably know what their temperament is, even if you’ve never thought about it that way.
We start seeing temperamental differences shortly after birth. Parents will say, “He’s such a good baby!” That parent probably has a baby that almost never cries, sleeps through the night and is easy and content. Other babies may be so fussy or colicky that the parent is up all night and in tears trying to comfort them. By observing and interacting with babies, we learn early what upsets them further and what measures it takes to soothe them. We even learn how to manipulate their environment so it suits their temperament.
It’s no different as children start growing up. Parents learn which child needs to be held, and which child will say, “Don’t touch me!” Parents, we can use this knowledge to our advantage! Understanding your child’s natural inborn patterns allows you to ease a feisty or high-spirited child through transitions, or give a shy, cautious child plenty of time to warm up to new friends or new situations. We can adjust our parenting voice to meet each individual child’s needs when it comes to encouragement or discipline.
Don’t ignore your own temperament when it comes to interactions with your children, either! Sometimes your temperament may clash with your child’s – I know mine does! – but if you tune into both and adjust accordingly, you’ll find harmony.