Monday, September 20, 2010

Begins again...

School days, School days, good old golden rule days....

Yay!!  School has started.

I loved watching all the smiling faces walk into the classroom.  Seeing the excited greetings as students saw each other.  It is fun to watch them greet like long lost friends, even when you know some of them saw each other that morning.

A new class coming together makes connections in interesting ways.  I see some of the newer ones trying hard to make contact.  Slowly siding up to someone during the snack time and hoping to start a conversation.  I see the returning ones gathering together, not trying to be a clique, but just finding comfort in the familiar faces.  Some are excited and love to talk during circle, and some are waiting for the right moment, while others are quietly observing. 

There is a lot that can be learned from these first interactions.  Who needs a little guidance, who is already feeling overwhelmed and who jumps in with both feet.  With out thinking about it, people in new situations sometimes display the most honest, filter free glimpse into their temperaments. 

And that's just the Fall Parent Orientation...

Temperament is one of my favorite subjects.  It is interesting.  Think about Parent Orientation and then think about your child's first circle time this year.  You will find that you can tell a lot about who someone is, just by the way they behave at this time.  As I watched one of my preschool classes today, some children sang every song, some sang as we warmed up to the second one, and some didn't sing at all but you know they are singing all the way home in the car. 

One little girl was so fun to watch during music.  We were doing the "freeze dance" it has a lot of stops and starts, almost like different sections.  dance, dance, dance...freeze - dance, dance, dance...freeze.  You get the idea.  Some of these preschoolers, jumped right in and danced like they were on America's Got Talent.  They put all their energy into it and had a blast.  This little first she was just holding her scarf, not moving it or herself.  When I looked closely I could see she was intently watching the teacher dance around, and then watching her classmates and the parents.  She was soaking it all in.  Her mom was behind her and it was wonderful to see her just let her be.  She didn't force her to dance.  She even said to me "She's just taking everything in."   After a while we noticed her little hips moving, then the scarf, and then she was dancing.  It was great to watch.  She had taken her time and joined when she was ready.

What was so wonderful, was not that she danced, but that she was given the freedom not to dance.  That the whole class honored her temperament and let her explore in her own way.  The teacher was watching and said a few encouraging things, but she was given her space.  Everyone understood that she needed to do things on her own, and it is such a  powerful thing to be able to explore the world at your own pace. 

I always ask parents to think about their child's temperament traits and project those 20 years from now.  Who wouldn't want a son/daughter who examined situations closely before they jumped in.  By the same token we love and need those individuals who will jump in and charge forward.

Just like those parents in the parent meeting, you need everyone - all types.  Those that jump in, and those that take their time analyzing things from all angels before they take part.

Today's Parenting Lesson- Honor Who They Are.

Sometimes in Parent Ed, I ask parents to change the labels they have given to some of their child's more "challenging" temperament traits.  Imagine if you thought of your child not as "shy" but "slow to warm up"  This opens the door to so many possibilities.  What if your "frustratingly persistent" child was actually just super focused.  Your "highly sensitive" child was just "really in tune with themselves."   Turn the tables on your self.  Start accepting those things that you can't change.  Project those traits to an adult, and see how much you appreciate them. 

Sure, for some traits there will be those coping skills  that you want to help teach them.  My "slow transitioner" has learned to ask what's coming up and to start mentally prepping for the next thing.  This skill came because I recognized that as a child who didn't like transitions or sudden changes in routine it really helped to give plans a head of time, to explain who would be there, and what the expectations were.  After time my child starting asking these questions them self, and is the first one to want something written on the family calendar, and to check what the week is like.

Understanding who your child is, and what won't change can help you and them to become comfortable with who they are.  It can help you to understand where conflicts sometimes come from.  Being willing to analyse this in your child allows you to help prepare them for the world a head.  It also gives them the freedom to feel good about who they are and learn to express what they need.

Today's Life Lesson - Get to Know Yourself.

Not only that, but learn to love those things that are inherently you.  Not to say that you don't try on "new" hats.  Just to say that you acknowledge who you are.  That you embrace those things that make you unique.  Also, that you take a look at your own coping skills.  What do you notice about how you approach the world.  Do you cut off tags because they are always itchy?  Do you cry at movies?  Do you wait a while before saying things in a group or all you always the one to volunteer your opinion.  Who are you?  What do you need to enjoy your it and do it. 

For more information on temperaments check out these websites

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