Help! My child has an inflexible temperament!
We’ve been focusing on flexibility this month. It’s really a wonderful opportunity to focus on growing the trait in ourselves as well as in our kids!
Over the years we’ve talked a lot about how important it is to have a growth mindset.
If any of you were with us last winter, we even played a video for the little ones to help them understand the concept (remember Mojo?)
Having a growth mindset is not just about learning and developing academic skills. It has to do with EVERYTHING! We may have been born with an aversion to change (who wasn’t?) We may naturally avoid conflict (again, who doesn’t?) We may find it hard to talk to people we haven’t met before (starting to see the pattern, or is it just me?)
We can grow in every facet of our life, personality, temperament….
As a bonus, if you are a follower of Jesus Christ, you know that transformation is an ongoing, lifelong process. Another way of describing the growth mindset! (We just know who to thank for the positive changes!)
So, how can I help my child learn adaptability?
If you are not a Christ follower, please forgive this short wandering into “religious” territory. But if you ARE a Christ follower, it’s important to make sure you teach your children that their IDENTITY is in Christ.
They are not what they do, how they perform, what people say about them, or ANYTHING else! God loves them more than they can even imagine. That knowledge becomes an unshakable foundation and gives them the freedom to grow in every area.
How do we grow the most? Through failure. (Or sometimes learning from someone else’s failure.) But it we never fail, we really are not growing. We’re staying comfortable in what we know.
When we know we are beloved by the God most high, and even better, when we know he wants us to grow and learn, we can learn to be comfortable in new circumstances, with new people, learning and trying new things.
Anything a bit more concrete?
Actually, the more adaptable you are, the more adaptable your children are likely to be. Try to see where you display discomfort with change. Remember the oxygen mask – it’s much easier to help the children if you’re breathing easy.
Each child is different, so the first area of adaptability for a parent is to discern the differences in each of your children, and treat them differently. If one is excited about a new thing and can’t wait to get started, great!
But have patience and understanding for the one who needs more time to adapt. Allowing children to build self-confidence, and not pushing them into situations where you know they will fail, before they are ready can help ease them into a new mindset.
Self-confidence, but struggle and failure, too
Aware that it might sound contradictory, your goal is to encourage self-confidence, but once they have some, allowing them to struggle.
You know your own child and where to find the balance. (For you Christ followers, you always have access to the Holy Spirit to help guide you!)
We build self-confidence by struggling, and overcoming, and realizing we CAN do something we thought we couldn’t. Failure can lead us to find another way, look at things in a new way.
Spend time with others
We can become inflexible when we’re alone and used to doing what we want when we want. The more time kids spend with others, sharing possessions, learning how to get along and resolve conflicts (with adult guidance when necessary), the more flexible they become.
If flexibility is something you really want to work on, you can artificially introduce changes to help your child learn to adapt to changes.
If that’s you, you probably already know the areas your child is inflexible about. Are there some small changes that you can implement to give your child “practice” at overcoming resistance to change? Small changes, over time, will make it easier for your child to handle the big changes that will inevitably come.
To learn more about developing Flexible Thinking click here.