When you learn to recognize your child’s God-given temperament as a blessing, you will have a better relationship with your child. This is the first of a 3 part series examining the eight innate dispositions. I hope that you see the value of God’s design. Parents of an easygoing child may feel blessed during the preschool years and frustrated with their child’s lack of ambition in the teen years. Accepting your child as she or he is a key aspect of unconditional love.
Think of each characteristics on a continuum between 1-10. If your child is a 1, 2, 9 or 10, he will need skills for specific occasions. She may need to use so self-restraint to follow social etiquette. However, never try to change your child’s temperament. When the temptation arises read Genesis 25, 26. Do not make the tragic mistakes of picking a favorite like Isaac and Rebeka. God specifically designed your child for His purposes.
The word of the LORD came to me, saying, “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, before you were born I set you apart; I appointed you as a prophet to the nations.” (Jeremiah 1:4, 5 NIV)
Each person is born with her own quirky personality. Trying to make a child go against her temperament is like trying to make a fish fly. It is going to cause everyone frustration. Do not let your preferences; tempt you to label anyone with a negative nickname. Names such as “hurricane,” “fraidy cat,” “couch potato” will do nothing to improve family relationships regardless of their accuracy. Words lead to destiny. Treat your children with the respect deserved for God’s unique creation.
“The words of the reckless pierce like swords, but the tongue of the wise brings healing.” (Proverbs 12:18 NIV)
Become a student of your child, empowering his strengths and minimizing his weaknesses. For example, a wise parent will reduce the noise of television or music when an easily distracted teen is doing homework. Shaming a slow-to-warm-up child will be counter productive when trying to make him feel secure enough to come out of his shell.
1. Activity Level
This has nothing to do with hyperactivity. Some children are born with extra energy. Even during pregnancy it is noticeable in the womb some babies are more active. This does not mean your child will never be able to sit still in church, or school, but it does mean that this child will be happier if you bring him something to enjoy with while waiting at the table in a restaurant. Therefore, you may need to ignore a tapping toe and some finger playing while waiting for a funeral to start. This child maybe a multi-tasker, able to listen and doodle at the same time.
It is easy for a parent to say, “Why don’t you go play outside like your sister?” to the less active kid. Granted physical activity is important, but are you motivated by, “Why can’t you be like someone else?” Children who are compared unfavorably to others become resentful and jealous. It will be harder for your offspring to believe in God’s unconditional love, if you seem to have like someone else better.
The simplest solution to activating the docile child or slowing down the energetic one is to participate in the activity you are suggesting. Enjoying a parent’s attention is a wonderful motivator to get a child to go against their temperament BRIEFLY. Your goal is not to alter God’s design; it is to help your child become more balanced inside the continuum.
“ But in fact God has placed the parts in the body, every one of them, just as he wanted them to be.” (1 Corinthians 12:18 NIV)
2. Rhythmicity and Adaptability
Rhythmicity explains how much of a routine someone needs. Some infants that come into this world eating every four hours, pooping one hour after being feed, and sleeping for several hours at a time. Other infants seem to change their patterns as soon as one seems to develop.
Most children thrive with regular meal, and bedtime, yet some NEED a regular routine. Without predictability, they become irritable on family vacations or when company comes. If she is flexible, be grateful, but give a basic structure for security. If he is not, then make sure your toddler has a snack if he has to wait for supper, or provide a calming activity if a nap is not an option. Do as much as you can to keep life normal; however, do not let this become an excuse for bad behavior especially once he is six years or older. Learning to cope with irregular schedules is a life skill.
Bio-rhythms are also part of this category. This includes how much the time of day affects someone. Are you a night owl, an early bird, or can you easily do shift work? Although parents cannot change to world to revolve around their child’s strengths, they may choose to adapt chores, conversations, and activities for the best time of day for that particular child.
3. Intensity of Reaction
When the lead character of a movie is suddenly attacked, do you jump, scream, or smile? Your involuntary response developed even before you were born. When dealing with the stresses of life do you freeze-up unable to think or move?
Most of us are balanced, able to respond appropriately to life’s challenges. It is not good or bad that some people are quiet when conflict arises; the Bible does encourage thinking before speaking. However, if this is so extreme that communication shuts down then nothing is resolved. Parents must equip their stoic child in how to express feelings and ideas respectfully.
On the other hand, the emotional dynamo needs help in discerning a true a crisis and guidance as to how speak rationally. Remember neither of these temperaments is better, your job is provide him necessary skills, so he can be most effective in serving God.
“The one who has knowledge uses words with restraint, and whoever has understanding is even-tempered.” (Proverbs 17:27 NIV)
Everyone has these characteristics to varying degrees. It is fascinating to see how these temperaments are very evident in some newborns. Do not confuse this with sin nature, these have nothing to do with rebellion against God.
- Where do you fit on the continuum?
Next week we will consider: threshold of response, reaction to a new situation, and quality of mood.