“Why is Madelyn following me around all the time?!” That is the question I was asking my Type A self as I hurriedly went from one multi-tasking task to another. To be honest, I was regularly annoyed that my grade school child couldn’t leave me alone “for just one minute” so I could “get stuff done.” I thought to myself, “Ursula doesn’t do this so why does Madelyn?”
During my training as a parent coach, we were asked to take a Core Temperament Assessment; essentially a group of questions that pointed us towards discovering the core temperament of each person in our family and this was where I received some information that literally changed the way I parent my kids and gave me a few answers as to why she was following me.
So what exactly is Core Temperament? Those of us with two children know that there are fundamental differences between them, and as a matter of fact, in all of my years of doing this work, I have never once heard a parent say, “My kids are exactly the same.” 🙂 Temperament is the foundation from which we build values, shape preferences and formulate reactions to the world around us. It is how we respond to the environment in which we live, and, it is a part of our personality with which we were born. Temperaments can be drastically different between siblings and between parents, hence potentially causing conflict and strife, and hence the reason my daughter was following me around….
You see, she is what is known as an “Interpersonal” child on the Temperament scale, and Interpersonal children are well, interpersonal. She thrives on being around others and connecting with them. She needs to feel deeply connected more than other temperament types might. She also internalizes discourse and wants to quickly restore harmony and balance; she has lots of friends (as you can imagine) and she does not do well with authoritarian parenting methods. On top of it all, she is challenged with time. She takes her time, gives things loving care and makes sure they’re right. She is the child with whom I have this dialog: “Let’s go Madelyn, let’s go, time to go, no you can’t do one more craft, we have to leave in 5 minutes.., etc., etc. “ These are all traits of the Interpersonal child.
I, on the other hand, am an Achiever type. I am on the go, doing, achieving, and “getting things done”. I need freedom and autonomy and never have enough time. Can you sense the disconnect? It was no wonder she was following me around. Ah Ha I said to myself… And, to make things even more interesting, my other daughter is a “Thinker” type and my husband is an “Influencer”; so our family has four out of four temperament traits. Oh boy. 🙂
So how did this information help me in my parenting? First and foremost it gave me the knowledge that I wasn’t giving my child what she really needed, which was more real connection with me. I certainly thought I was giving her enough, but based on this new knowledge, I ended up modifying my behavior in order to meet her needs. This included more eye to eye recognition, putting down my phone when I was speaking to her, lots of extra hugs and touching and more focused, one on one playtime. (Side note: These are good things for all children!)
Second, it changed my expectations of her. Now that I knew that some of these traits were inherent, I had fewer hardline expectations of her. Take the issue of “time” for example; prior to this knowledge, I used to get so frustrated with her when she was starting something new right before we were supposed to leave. Now I can understand that this trait is a part of her and I can be more gentle in my approach.
And finally, it allowed me to give myself a break. I had a better understanding of our differences and why we were clashing. I wasn’t a bad parent for being a Doer; this is just an inherent part of me. I knew I couldn’t change that part, but what I could do was modify a bit for the sake of my child.
Now imagine if your child is a Doer like I am. What type of nanny or teacher might be best for them? One who gave them opportunities to take the lead, make choices for themselves or give them the freedom to speak their minds? YES!
So now imagine if everyone had this information about their child? At the end of the day, our kids would find more peace with themselves, connection to their parents, and a greater sense of being accepted for who they are. And that’s a beautiful thing. 🙂
If you want to learn more about temperament or would like to have a Temperament Analysis and Coaching session for yourself and your family, you may find more information here.