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How come some parents hardly survives growing and taking care of their own child? How come other parents takes it easy and seems to have enough time to have fun for themselves even with a child being taken care of?
These questions are not new questions for us. Parents have realized that parenting, even though with the same process, can give a result that are different from each other. What is really surprising is, even in the same family, childrean are different right from the start. What some people do not realize is that the ways in which children differ are somehow similiar.
In 1956, medical doctors Stella Chess and Alexander Thomas, began conducting a longitudinal study with a sample of more than a hundred (100+) children. They observed these babies, conducted interviews with their mothers and fathers, and sent in researchers to gather data. As time passes by and the babies grew older, Chess and Thomas continued to follow their development. They spoke to their teachers, continued observations in their homes, and talked with their parents. As the children grew into adulthood, the medical doctors persisted their research. What they discovered was simple but profound: Babies are different from the start. In fact, they concluded, babies are different in nine specific ways.
Regular children are much easier to potty train than irregular children. They favor routine. Their meal times, bedtimes, and schedules all fall into predictable and comfortable patterns. Not so, for irregular children. Their body clocks so not tivk off the moments of their lives in anything that even resembles a predictable fashion.
While some children rush excitedly and confidently into new adventures, other hold back fearfully, needing continued assurance and encouragement to take the first step. In other words, some children tend to approach new situations positively, while others tend to withdraw.
Where one child screams over barely stubbed toe, another will fall off a cliff and walk away without skipping a beat. Children with low sensorythreshold often complain about seemingly insignificant things.
Some children reach to life's circumstances with a huge amount of energy. If something is funny then they laugh until their tears begin to stream. If they are angry, they stomp their feet and raise their voices. Other children are more bland. They smile vaguely at humurous situations and let the offenses of others roll their backs with barely a crossword.
Such children are more attuned to outside stimuli. they have difficulty concentrating if so much as a fly buzzes by the window. Yet their siblings may be able to do their homework with the television going, the door opening and closing, and people entering and exiting the room.
Some children never give up. They perceive the goal, they concentrate on the objectives, and they go for the prize. Others abandon a project in despair after one short-lived, failed attempt.
Obviously, each child comes with his or her own unique mix of these characteristics. Even children from the same family can be much different from each other. Some parents may find this very frustrating, and even painful, especially when a particular child uniqueness appears to be "bad".
These are three suggestions coming from the medical doctors themselves:
Do not assume that if your child behaves differently from what you expected and hoped, you have been a bad parent.
Do not assume that your child is deliberately behaving in a waythat upsets you and could behave differently if he or she wanted to.
Do not make moralistic judgements about your child because of the behaviour that does not live up to a standard that you have set.
The bottom line is this:
Accept your child for who he or she is.
Don't try to make one child into a copy of another. Work with your child within the framework of what he brings into a situation. Look for unique strengths. Help him recognize and deal with his own liabilities.
Stella Chess and Alexander Thomas, Know Your Child (New york: Basic Books, 1987)
Images taken from: Unsplash
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