Posts Tagged ‘temperament’

Dancing with a Wallflower or Parenting the “Slow to Warm Up” Child

February 11th, 2015

shutterstock_219620059My daughter is the ultimate “wallflower” when it comes to dancing through life.  I am fortunate to have had the personal experience of parenting  a “slow to warm up” temperament child.   I will share some parenting strategies or “dancing  steps” that I have learned over the years that I think have enhanced our relationship and her development.

First—as a parent I know Hannah well.  I know when she is stressed.  I know when she is scared.  I know when she is apprehensive.  I have learned when she needs support and when she needs a little push.  I have learned how to support and not hover.  This ability to read our kids temperament is the first and most important step in creating the “goodness of fit” that we discussed in our latest Science of Parenting podcast.

I lovingly call her my “wallflower”.  Many times she was overlooked in classroom or in social activities because she was quiet and easily over powered by those with more eager, robust temperaments.  She required more time to adjust to new situations, new environments, and new people.  She was and continues to be highly sensitive to sounds, food, smells, and textures.  She requires time to observe, and become comfortable.  Large groups, busy places, and surprises were hard for her to adjust to.  I learned early in her life—to provide early notification and discussion of what she was going to experience.  Coaching and communicating were important for her comfort.  She is almost twenty now, but still finds comfort in familiarity.

When parenting a “slow to warm up” child, it is important to nurture their development and self-esteem.  They need acceptance.   This means encouraging strengths ( for example- ability to play on her own, or to observe what’s going on around her carefully), and providing support when she needs it (visiting and exploring a new class in child care to help her feel comfortable).

When you notice and appreciate the similarities and differences between you and your child, you can adapt the way you parent in order to meet your child’s individual temperament needs.  This helps your child feel loved, confident, important, and capable.  Sensitive parenting helps your child know and feel good about themselves as they mature.  Lastly, encourage your child to engage in activities that they enjoy.  Avoid the “shy” labels.  Give ample time to help them get used to the idea of doing something new.  Advocate, coach and encourage.

American society tends to view sensitivity and “shyness” as negative traits, but as a parent of a —slow to warm up now adult child I have learned that they have much to offer.  They are perceptive, observant, caring, empathetic and deeply in touch with their feelings and emotions and importantly those of others.  Traits not always easily found in others.    Love and value your kids for who they are.   I love my wallflower….Hannah.


Janet Smith

parenting, social-emotional, temperament , ,

The RIGHT Kind of Play

March 14th, 2013

I admit to feeling like I had a play deficit when my children were little. So much so that I used to make myself feel pretty guilty because as an early childhood educator I felt like I should be better at ‘PLAY’. What I discovered is that I just play differently. And guess what. So do you!

We all play differently. I found that I like play that is active or has action. Others like to play board and/or card games that are more quiet. While still others enjoy the make believe and dress up adventures. There is no right or wrong way to play. There is just play. Pure and simple. Play. Play is face to face with the children in your life. Engaging their mind and body while creating strong relationships. Back and forth communication.  I guess my message really is don’t over analyze how you play or if you play is good enough or right enough.

Just play.

Pat yourself on the back, give yourself credit and tell me how you like to play with the children in your life.


education, family time, friendship, grandparenting, language development, play, positive parenting, raising teens, social-emotional, temperament , , , , , , , , , , ,

Teach Appropriate Behavior Through Discipline – Online Training

March 11th, 2013

It’s not the emotion – it’s the outlet.

February 22nd, 2013

Guest Blogger- Family Life Intern Mackenzie K.

As Donna and the podcast suggested, anger is natural for children. There are countless issues that may cause a child to feel angry: not getting their way, frustration over things that are hard, learning difficulties, family problems, or friendship issues.

Often times we want to tell our children that they should not be angry. Their anger sometimes seems irrational and unjustified to us as parents. In reality, the emotion of anger is not the problem; it is how they handle that anger.

So allow your child to feel angry. We all know how hard it is to try to change your emotions. Help your child identify their feeling as anger. Saying and labeling the emotion like this may be helpful, “You are angry because I won’t let you eat candy before supper” or “I can tell that when you don’t make the circle perfect it makes you frustrated”.

Now that they can recognize their anger, they can learn how to address it. There are some great strategies and tips to try when helping your child learn to handle their anger in the article below:

Helping Children with Anger

Does anyone have any experience using these techniques? What has worked best for you and your child?

discipline, education, family time, friendship, language development, overindulgence, positive parenting, raising teens, school, social-emotional, spanking, temperament , , , , , , , , , , , ,

We all get MAD!

February 10th, 2013

Yep, we all get mad! Infants, toddlers, elementary kids, middle schoolers, high schoolers, college kids, young adults, the middle aged and the aging. We ALL get MAD!  So if we all get mad then why sometimes do we let others people anger confound and confuse us so much?

Understanding how my own emotions impact my behavior was a huge part of me being able to understand why my children get angry and how they show it in their behaviors. I realized that my emotions created my behaviors and my children were reacting to those behaviors.  Think of it like a circle –  Behavior, Reaction, Behavior, Reaction and so on and so on.  As the adult we have to figure out how to make the behaviors and reactions less intense and emotion filled. Easier said than done right?  That’s where our blog begins. Join us and help us start the discussion.

Here are some of my favorite temperament places. Parent Child Help – Mary Sheedy Kurcinka ,   Behavioral-Development Initiatives  and Preventive Ounce


discipline, positive parenting, social-emotional, temperament , , , , , ,


January 24th, 2013

Guest Blogger – Family Life Intern Mackenzie K

You are at the grocery store and just about done with your shopping. It’s been a pretty pleasant trip, but then you round the last aisle. Your child sprints toward the Fruity Pebbles. “Please please please”. You respond, “No, we aren’t going to get those this time”.  And it begins: the kicking feet, flailing arms, and high-pitched screaming. You are the victim of another grocery store tantrum via Fruity Pebbles or Death.

When it happens to you as the parent, it makes you feel embarrassed, and (let’s be real) frustrated with your child. You just wanted a quick simple trip to the store, and now you have a screaming child drawing a lot of unwanted attention to you.

So how do we address the problem of our screaming child? Some of us may want to spank or threaten. Some of us may want give in to the child’s request in order to stop the fit. Some of us may yell back. Some of us may simply walk away.

According to researchers at Zero to Three, the keyto this scenario  is staying calm rather than losing it. Don’t let your anger get the best of you. Also, make sure to validate your child’s feelings. They really do feel frustrated! There are some great tips and techniques to try in the article below:

Zero to Three: When he doesn’t get his way

Have you used any  of  the techniques in the article before? How has it gone for you?

discipline, family time, overindulgence, positive parenting, social-emotional, spanking, temperament , , , , , ,

Corporal Punishment….. ouch are we really gonna blog about it?

January 4th, 2013

Should parents spank their children? This month that’s our topic~ yes we really are gonna talk about spanking and alternative ways to discipline children.

Listen to the podcast, check out the links and then join us for great discussion!

Research Based links

corporal punishment, discipline, podcast, positive parenting, social-emotional, spanking, temperament , , , , , , , ,

From the comforts of home?

April 19th, 2012

This is an exciting time at Science of Parenting!

We have a question for you! What if we offered you opportunities for additional information on your favorite topics?

Come with me to my brain … envision this…

The kids have settled down and gone to bed. You have your comfy slippers on your feet and your favorite chair is ready!

You grab the computer or whatever technology is closest and join us ‘after hours’ for an online conversation on the monthly Science of Parenting topic.

Recently we tested the idea. “Taming the Tiger Within” was held at 8:30pm on a Tuesday night for about 50 minutes. We shared ideas on how to tame those tantrums and your feet were up on your own recliner! It seemed like there were no bugs hiding out in our system so we are going to offer it again.

Tuesday, May 22nd 8:30pm.

Watch for log on details soon!

Join us and learn how to tame your tiger!  Invite your friends to subscribe to the blog and you can all join us with your slippers on!

What topics would you like to see offered as an evening webinar?


education, positive parenting, social-emotional, temperament , , ,

Pitching a Fit in the Grocery Store

March 15th, 2012

Do you remember a time when your child pitched a fit in the grocery store? It’s one thing to handle a temper tantrum at home. But when it’s in public – like at the grocery store with everyone watching – that’s enough to test everything you know. Some people may give you that “why don’t you do something with your kid” look while others shoot you a sympathizing “I’ve been there” look. Either way you are probably embarrassed or frustrated or tired or just ready to throw up your hands.

We are most apt to have shopping disasters when we make those stops at the grocery store at the end of a busy day. Are you and your child too tired or hungry to shop? If so, a major tantrum is a high possibility. Children usually behave better when everyone is more relaxed and happy so plan the best time for the shopping trip. Be clear about expectations before you go in the store – stay in the cart, hold my hand, use indoor voice. Also decide together what will happen if your child behaves at the store. Keep it simple. Perhaps you stop for an ice cream cone on the way home or promise to play a favorite game when you get home.

Once you’re in the store, make a game of the shopping. Or give your child some choices (this or that cereal, red or yellow apples). Give him a responsibility like holding the bread or steering the cart. Praise him often to reinforce good behavior. “You are really helping Mommy by putting the cans in the cart.”

Okay, so even though we’ve done all the planning and talking, we can still end up with an out-of-control child. If that happens, take her to the restroom or out of the store away from other people and distractions. Tell her that her behavior is not acceptable and then wait – wait for her to calm down. If she is ready to try it again, go for it. If not, go home. And don’t go back in and buy her a treat where she just pitched a fit!!

What do you do when your child throws a tantrum in the grocery store? Any tips on calming down both parent and child?

Donna Donald

positive parenting, temperament , , , , ,

Elementary my dear Watson….

March 8th, 2012

Sitting on my deck in the sun…listening to the neighborhood children running through the water puddles left by the melting snow. The sounds of their loud and intense squeals of laughter remind me that several of these kiddos are champion tantrum throwers as well. The emotions are just as strong when they are happy as when they are angry. Like Donna said last months temperament topic goes right along with this month’s temper tantrums topic.

In the heat of a good tantrum it’s so important to think about the cause behind the emotions. Getting wrapped up and wound up in the emotions along with the child will be like throwing gas on a fire. Finding a way to remain calm both physically and emotionally can help the child deescalate as well. What was the initial cause of the very first emotion? Was it frustration? Was it hurt? Was it fear? The intensity of the tantrum is the secondary emotion – something triggered.

We have to play Sherlock Holmes…. What was going on prior to the tantrum? Where was the child? Who was in the vicinity? When did the emotions start to show themselves?  Take a breath and see if you can find the clues before responding.

What were some clues you discovered when you search for reason behind your child’s tantrum?


education, language development, positive parenting, social-emotional, temperament , , , , , , , , ,

I Want It Right Now!

March 1st, 2012

And I want it my way. As an adult I can use words to communicate feelings. But try to remember what it is like to be a small child. Most toddlers still don’t talk too much or know how to express feelings. They aren’t very good at solving problems either. So when you think about it, having a tantrum almost makes sense.  During the podcast the guys talked about the two emotions that are central to tantrums – anger and sadness. I found it interesting that anger peaks about 1/3 of the way through the tantrum and then declines while sadness remains a constant steady background. I also tuned in to the conversation about how temperament figures into kids and tantrums. Do you see how last month’s podcast and this one tie together?

When a child gets angry it is soooo easy to respond with anger. In fact we were told that was a natural reaction. We were also warned about the anger trap. If everyone gets angry, then things can escalate and nothing gets resolved. Staying calm and in control of your own emotions is important. So is pausing for a few seconds before you respond. Doesn’t sound like too much to ask, but in the midst of a major meltdown it can be difficult. If you can remain calm and reasonably collected, you will be showing your child how to handle frustration and you will also have a better chance of figuring out the best way to deal with the tantrum.

The Temper tantrums publication suggest four possible ways to deal with a tantrum. Some are more suitable to different aged children. Check it out. Do you have a tantrum thrower in your family? What do you find helps dissolve the anger and comfort the child?  

Donna Donald

social-emotional, temperament , ,

Episode 13: All about Tantrums

March 1st, 2012

When children throw tantrums, which comes first: the screaming or the crying? Michael Potegal knows — and has the video evidence to prove it. The University of Minnesota researcher talks about his video study of tantrums in this month’s Science of Parenting podcast.

ISU Extension publications

Related resources

Learn more about Michael Potegal and his research.

Zero to Three: National Center for Infants, Toddlers and Families

Additional links to be posted with the news release

podcast, temperament , , , ,

Taming the Tiger inside……

February 23rd, 2012

I’m a fairly mild mannered girl. It takes quite a bit to rile me up and get me excited, agitated or angry. I’m certainly not saying I can’t get there. I just run at a slower boiling point than some. However,  I think that some of my favorite people and kiddos are those that boil quickly and intensely. I’m not sure what it is about them. Maybe I long for their zest and intensity for both hot and cold/high and low. I love being around them and love working with them.

As parents, it’s important to recognize what your own boiling point is before you can help lower your child’s. Children watch us control ourselves in order to determine how to control themselves. I tell parents that if they can first recognize and conquer their own intense temperaments -or lower their own boiling point first – then they will be better equipped to help their child lower his/her boiling point.

Do you get physically hot when you are angry? Does the red creep up your neck? Do you talk faster, high pitched or louder? Think about what happens to you as you begin to boil. Then try a few of the following steps – these steps are exactly what you would show/teach your child as well.

  1. Deep breathe
  2. Relax your neck, shoulders and jaw (on purpose!)
  3. Turn away from what it is that is frustrating you – or close your eyes for a moment so you can’t see it.
  4. Swallow or suck (This is a natural movement that has been around since you were born. Get a drink of water, suck on a candy or pop in some gum!)
  5. Sway (Yes really! Again a natural movement that was there when you were born. We all sway when see a baby rocking, try it! You may find it soothing!)

What other signs show you that your child is about to boil over?

What things do you do to try to lower that boiling point?


education, positive parenting, social-emotional, temperament , , , , , ,

HELP! I need some direction!!

February 9th, 2012

Did you hear it? Could you hear your own words in what Mary was saying in this months podcast? Did you find yourself saying “She’s talking about MY child! My LIFE!”

I Love Love Love sharing about Temperament. I have been climbing the walls WAITING for the podcast to come out so you could all hear it. And now it’s here and I have so much to share ……. that I’m at a loss for words…. no really…. I have no idea where to begin!

Do you want to hear about the Intense and Feisty child?  Or the Shy and Fearful one? Or maybe you have a Flexible Easy Going child and want to make sure they don’t get lost in the crowd!

Understanding temperament is like being able to ‘see in’ to the why of children’s behavior. Why do they scream loudly? Why do they cower and tuck their head? Why do they take so long to make a decision? How do I COPE!

There is so much to SHARE but I need your help to tell me where to START!!!

Listen to Mary if you haven’t and then let me know your burning questions about what she said!  If you don’t help me – I’ll start without you!


education, positive parenting, social-emotional, temperament , , , , ,

Episode 12: How to Parent Spirited Children

February 1st, 2012

When it comes to temperament, some kids are as dependable as pickup trucks, while others are as touchy as high-end sports cars. This month’s Science of Parenting podcast examines the “engine” that drives a child and how parents can manage spirited children.

ISU Extension publications

Related resources

Additional links

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