Temperamental Differences in Young Children (Part 2)
What should be done when there is a significant difference between a child’s temperament and that of his parents?
Fortunately, goodness of fit does not require a match between a child’s temperament and that of his parents. It merely requires a match between his temperament and their practices. We cannot change who we are, but we can control what we do.
Therefore, achieving goodness of fit first necessitates respecting the diversity among humans. If you and your child have different temperaments, it is imperative to accept that this may not be particularly convenient, but it is okay. The second part is more difficult as it necessitates controlling yourself. Depending on the degree of discrepancy between you and your child, you may find it nearly impossible to do this on occasion, but for his sake, you must try.
Of course, I’m not suggesting that you abandon your parental responsibilities or aspirations. In the above examples, the anxiety-ridden parent certainly can keep a close eye on the intrepid toddler and urge him to be careful. And the daredevil parent definitely need not refrain from encouraging their timid toddler to loosen up and take a chance. But unreasonable restriction or excessive force can be and should be avoided. Otherwise, it may be the parent who eventually will be avoided by the child.
So take stock of yourself and take stock of your child. There are bound to be at least some significant temperamental differences. Don’t be ashamed of who you are or disappointed in who he is. And don’t neglect to contradict and take control when dealing with issues of safety, propriety, or progress. But do be prepared to behave in a manner that may be contrary to your basic nature if it means permitting him to behave in a manner that suits his. In the long run, achieving goodness of fit ultimately is in both of your best interests.