From what I can tell there are two essential types of children in terms of their behavioral repertoire.
The first types are the kids who go along with the program. They are flexible. From a young age, you can take them to restaurants, off to the mall and other public places. These children go along with the program. They tend to pull for lots of pleasing public smiles and nods. As parents, you swell with pride as others anoint you as “a wonderful parent who has raised a wonderful child.”
Then there is the other side of the coin.
On this side are the inflexible ones, the ones that go against the grain. From a young age they melt down with the slightest bit of frustration. Argumentative, sullen and difficult are all descriptors that are given to these children. When you take them to the family get-togethers everyone is “tsk tsking,” saying to themselves and later to others behind your back, “Can you believe that child…and the parents – such indulgers. It would have never happened in our household.”
Sarah is one of those inflexible ones. Age 8, she is melting down numerous times in the day. “Why does everyone hate me?” she screams when she gets the slightest reprimand. Sarah just doesn’t see her contribution to why people respond negatively to her and why she is losing friends.
If you have one of these inflexible types and if you have more than one child, odds are very good that one child is on the more flexible side and the other is not.
What does that suggest to you? Right. Your relatives and all of the “tsk tskers” out there really don’t know what they are talking about in terms of their view of your child or your parenting.
What I do know about these children, is that they are incredibly hard to manage. These are thoroughbred horses that require a certain type of handling or else they will easily break down.
Contrary to how flexible children are managed, these children need a range of different approaches, many of which we will explore in later blogs.
Parenting did not create flexible or inflexible children. Temperament is a hard wired personality style. Flexible children are a parenting “piece of cake.”
The inflexible ones are a challenge to everyone, even the top experts out there – like your relatives.