I wish I could say I didn’t, but I do. I am always so quick to want to blame someone or something for my own mishaps, misfortunes, or faults. However, when it comes to my children’s mishaps, misfortunes and faults, I ALWAYS blame myself. Why is that? How much of your childs behaviors can you chalk up to temperament? How much is actually the parents/caregivers fault? Is anyone to blame?
I have been doing a lot of research on child temperament trying to wrap my brain around dealing with my daughter. In doing so, I came across this great article, from Early childhood News (http://www.earlychildhoodnews.com/earlychildhood/article_view.aspx?ArticleID=554)
My 3 1/2-year-old daughter portrays almost all traits of the “Feisty, intense and passionate child”
Feisty children react intensely and negatively and have difficulty adapting to new situations… They also tend to have irregular daily routines. For example, they don’t naturally get up at the same time each morning or realize when it’s lunchtime…A feisty child’s attention span may seem short, but don’t be fooled. The feisty child can be attentive for long periods of time for activities she chooses and in which she is strongly engaged (yep). She takes in new people and situations intensely and sensory issues, such as smells and noises, are often bothersome (sooo true). External stimuli, such as a bright light are usually distracting for her (people are always amazed that she requests sunglasses) and she is typically passionate and moody, both positively and negatively (yep)…The feisty child is one that is noticed, both positively and negatively (she gets noticed alright). One thing can be said about the feisty child: She is not boring to be around! (absolutely not). About 10 percent of children fit into the feisty category.
Anyone who knows Elle, knows she is NOT boring. She is very lively, expressive, talkative, active, sensitive, intense, passionate and MOOODY. Trust me, she is the life of the party, classroom, house etc. I wouldn’t change it for anything, either. However, when she is upset, boy is she upset. Usually, this means a full-fledged screaming tantrum equipped with mild hitting, throwing herself to the floor, repeating a phrase over and over again (“I don’t want to leave”, “I want one now, Mommy”, etc”) to name a few. To a mother of an “easy/adaptable” child or “cautious/slow to warm” child this behavior seems crazy, and abnormal. These are the mothers who stare with judging eyes on my childs ridiculous behavior in the library. Not the fellow feisty childs mother who instead, approaches me (when appropriate) to tell me I am not alone, and offers their assistance and sympathy (true story that happened today). Gosh, I wish I had that mother’s number or email to thank her. It made me feel so good to know, that in that moment, and always, that I was not alone.
It is incredibly important as parents, that we know how to deal with our children. That’s what shapes them. They come into this world with their own temperament. It is the experiences they have with you, themselves, others (and society) that allow them to learn acceptable and not acceptable behavior. Well, I guess people can argue many theories. But the bottom line is, you simply can’t treat every child the same. They simply have different personalities and different needs. Does this mean we have to cater to them? Well, I guess, if you look at it that way. I look at it as being the best parent you can be by providing your child with what they need. Elle attends a co-op preschool where I am a participating parent one day every other week. I see first hand the 3 different temperaments, and I know that I can’t respond to those children the same. It just wouldn’t be right.
Whenever we encounter children of different temperaments, we need to be flexible… Flexibility is particularly important for the feisty child. The feisty child’s intensity leads to definite opinions about what or how they want to explore (Elle is very particular about the way she plays and wants you to)…Giving reasons for the way things are done are helpful for both the child and the adult in avoiding too many arbitrary rules and ensuring that the child understands the necessity of the rules that do exist (consistency, consistency,consistency.. maybe this is where I lack). Along with reasons, feisty children need preparation for changes in their lives. Preparation, especially for sleeping and eating, is helpful for all children (hence Elle’s hour plus long nighttime routine), but it’s especially important to the feisty child since her natural clock is less likely to be set (I never really realized this before but Elle does get up at different times everyday and sometimes is very distraught when I tell her it is lunch).
Moral of the story, I am still baffled. I have always wanted a manual that reads so literally that you can look up “in X situation, do Y”. Sadly, it doesn’t exist. Instead we have literary masterpieces like “Sippy Cups Are Not for Chardonnay” and the “What to Expect” series. I have to say, “Sippy Cups Are Not for Chardonnay” is really the inspiration for this blog. To me, Stefanie Wilder-Taylor (the author), is a humor clad realist (like myself) and delivers practical parenting tips, in a laugh so hard you might split your c-section stitches kind-of way. I realize this post lacks the humor I claim to have, but lately, the feisty-ness has stolen my humor, and replaced it with bitterness. Hopefully, I will get it back soon.
Like everything in life, stop blaming, and start doing.