In our journey to deal with the developing temperamental issues that are unique to each of our children, we have looked at several ideas for how to perceive, understand and relate to children who display behavior that sometimes is difficult to understand. Unfortunately, caregivers may overlook principles for dealing with temperament issues because they believe there is a “right or easy way” to manage children based on group dynamics; this method is unhelpful. There are not only different temperaments in children, but also different ways those temperaments may be displayed.
Adapting to the child’s temperament characteristics
It is now time to look more at the sixth principle: strategies for accommodating varied aspects of temperamental differences in early childhood—which provides specific ideas for caregivers to identify and adopt as strategies to help adapt to the child’s special temperament characteristics.
Principle six requires that caregivers will, (1) make accommodations to the environment or adopt preventative strategies to reduce the impact of a certain temperament characteristic, and (2) teach children coping skills for them to use to gradually overcome some of their more difficult behavioral displays of their temperament. We often find that children live in the extremes of these behaviors and require guidance in how to cope.
High and Low Activity Children. Caregivers often complain about the high activity child who does not seem to stop no matter what they do. The opposite is the low level activity child who appears to be unmotivated. Below are some strategies for both types of these temperamental characteristics.
For high activity level children a caregiver can:
- Provide a child with opportunities for activities that help them “let off steam,” such as running, jumping and climbing.
- Create specific areas for physical activities.
- Demand quietness in certain places, but only expect it for brief amounts of time.
- Help the child experiment with going slowly by practicing moving “like a snail” or other animal so that they can begin to experience some success in slowing down.
- Take breaks during long car or stroller rides
- Play games that have slow and fast movements in sequence, such as Simon Says.
- Alternate large muscle activities such as running and jumping with fine motor activities such as drawing or cutting.
- Provide consistent limits and structure, as well as containment of any risk-taking behavior that might dangerous.
- Encourage the use of words instead of constant action.
- Make sure to engage in a quiet activity rather than a noisy one before bedtime.
For low activity level children a caregiver can:
- Allow sufficient time for the child to finish tasks.
- Not criticize the child and not allow a more active sibling or playmate who responds more quickly to take over all the time
- Notice what has, rather than what has not, been accomplished
- Encourage fun physical activities that can improve motor tone and coordination
More strategies to come in my next post.
Gerry Vassar, President/CEO, Lakeside Educational Network
Source: Information taken from Pathways to Competence, Encouraging Healthy Social and Emotional Development in Young Children, Second Edition by Sarah Landy, pp 49-51.