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Temperament is defined as the “usual attitude, mood, or behaviour of a person…” (Merriam Webster). To be able to manage your children’s temperament, you have to first of all understand the nature of their temperament and then take the right steps towards managing them.

It is important to understand these things because only then can a parent understand the reason some things work for child X but don’t work for child Y.

This reminds of my former neighbour’s children many years ago.

Chuka, the woman’s first son of 9 years was very playful, loud and friendly. In contrast, his immediate younger sister of 8 years, Flora, was quiet, withdrawn and almost unfriendly.

I came back home one evening to see them playing around another neigbour’s parked car, drawing lines on the car with a sharp object.

I called them together and scolded them heavily, then told them I would report them to the owner of the car and of course to their mother as well. They felt sorry for their action and pleaded with me.

Days after the incident, Flora avoided me. She barely ever spoke to me, and she made obvious attempts to hide whenever I was coming her way. Chuka, on the other hand, greeted me as cheerfully as always when he saw me the following day. It was as though nothing happened the previous day.

That was temperament at work. Chuka and Flora were of same parents, but they were made up of different temperaments. As a parent, you must understand this to be able to manage your children’s temperament.

So how can you do this? We take a look:

STUDY YOUR CHILDREN:

Sometimes, the differences among children are so subtle that one has to pay close attention to spot them. This sounds like an easy task since parents live in same house with their children usually, but this is why it is very difficult –parents take it for granted!

As a parent, you have to study your children from the moment they are old enough to intentionally express emotions. When you understand that they have different ways of reacting to the same circumstances, then you’ll know how to handle them.

CORRECT THEM EARLY:

While children develop some temperaments naturally, parents can guide their children from developing the extreme temperaments.

There are children who get violent when throwing tantrums –and I once wrote about a neighbour’s four-year old son who hit me on the knee with a hard plastic cup because I didn’t give him tea when he wanted it. That is extreme temperament, and parents can help change it. Be watchful and step in when you feel your child is going too far.

Also, while it is okay for a child to keep to themselves sometimes, it is not often healthy for a child to always be withdrawn and stay away from everybody. This is even scary when you consider the rate of suicide going on in society these days.

Should such a child become depressed, how can you tell?

MANAGE YOUR OWN TEMPERAMENT:

It can never be over-emphasized, the fact that children learn most by copying adults around them. Your children watch you closely very often, and they very easily act out the things they see you do before them. It’s easy for those things to become a natural part of them as they grow up.

If you have an extreme temperament –say you get very violent when angry—then you must work on yourself first so you don’t influence your child negatively. Sometimes, children correct themselves, intentionally or otherwise, merely by watching and copying their parents.

Therefore, if you want to manage your children’s temperament, you have got to manage yours first.

In conclusion, always bear in mind that one can never totally know everything about parenting; it is something we learn by experience and by reading/hearing other people’s experiences. So open your mind to every literature and parenting stories around you and learn as much as you can. Don’t forget, however, to sieve the negative experiences from the positive ones.

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