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Every Kid is Different and Every Parent too

The theory of temperament and traits is a fascinating subject.  An understanding of our own temperament, our partner’s temperament and our children’s temperament will certainly help when it comes to parenting. Especially in our understanding of how best to respond to certain behaviour that is causing us concern.  I remember a time when our 14-year-old grandson had been staying with us for a while. My husband and I had been talking in the lounge when I suddenly looked up and noticed that it was getting very late and that my grandson should have already been in bed as it was school the next day. Telling him that he needed to quickly turn the computer off and get into bed brought an explosion of anger – the first from him in all the time he had been staying with us.

This was one of those times that I had forgotten to give him at least two or three warnings about the time he had left on the computer. I already knew that he tended to adapt or transition slowly from stopping something and beginning something else as he scores on the extreme end of the trait line for adaptability. This means that he doesn’t adapt well to changes in his schedule or routine and certainly doesn’t respond well to surprises.

Slow to adapt or transition is not a negative trait as there are many good things about it for the person who has it – for instance they tend to be not so easily distracted, can read while lots of activity is going on around them and can sleep on a plane on a long trip – a wonderful ability. It can, however, be difficult for those trying to deal with behaviour resulting from a trait scoring high on the slow to adapt end of the scale. My grandson’s behaviour is one example.

My husband also scores high on the slow to adapt end of this temperament trait line. He has always been able to work on his computer or read a book during all the years while our own children’s activity swirled busily around him and it is still the same now with our grandchildren. I often envy him for this wonderful ability as I just can’t concentrate at these times. It has however caused some problems over the years especially when our children were little and they wanted to just ask their dad a quick question and briefly show him something. I remember standing there counting 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7 times they said dad, dad, dad, dad, dad, dad, dad, before he dragged his concentration away from his book to listen to what they had to say.  In those days I didn’t know what I know now and just got frustrated with him. Oh for my time all over again.

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