When coaches or consultants are working with parents or a family, take time with parents to establish a good fit between the parent's temperament and the child's temperament.
What Is Creating a Good Fit?
The term "goodness of fit, or used here as the good fit, refers to parents meeting the needs of a child by parenting according to the temperament of each child. The goodness of fit between a child's temperament and your parenting temperament style is essential for healthy social and emotional development for both you and your child. Also, you want to meet your personal needs as a parent in daily living from sleeping well at night to scheduling date nights.
How To Create A Good Fit?
The Nine Traits Inventory is helpful in determining reaction patterns in children and typically is used from infancy through the first to fifth grade. For example, two-year-old Lucy was very shy. Each month when Mom's book group came for an evening, Lucy's mom thought she was helping by pushing Lucy forward or holding Lucy while mom's friends hugged her hello. Lucy, however, appeared frightened and pulled back.
Being with and observing your child, you start to note how he or she responds to people, environments, stress, food, etc. You'll be observant of how you react. Are you reactive? Or are you proactive?
Your goal is to become an active parent by recognizing feelings and watching behaviors. The more you observe your child's traits, the more prepared you're a master at managing and supporting temperaments. You are watching your child adapt, and then you adjust to varied environments and situations as you go along. Lucy's mom took the hint when a book club member mentioned that because Lucy seemed overly shy, why not let her hang out at the book club meeting for several weeks without pushing her into anyone or anything. Instead, the friend suggested that Lucy explores and find her level of comfort in her way. These moms would watch how she did it and learned what comforted Lucy. That advice was excellent for Lucy's mom to allow temperament expressions to evolve into a good fit for the situation.
What Does Adapting the Environment Mean?
Here are examples of how different parents handled changing the environment to meet the needs of a child.
Marilynn got upset when something new was happening the next day or an activity would be different. Her mom started talking about the exciting new event one week before it would happen. She'd mention in normal conversation each night, and the night before the event was the most critical. Marilynn asked, "Is it tomorrow?" Mom responded wth yes, which made Marilynn cry more. Marilynn would speak of being scared and not liking new things she didn't know about. Mom adapted the environment by talking about the event with her daughter. She left an additional hour for Marilynn to get ready for bed, cry, read a book, and talk some more before turning off the light. On the following mornings, Marilynn did all right and held herself together. Somehow, her living through the fear before the event seemed to make her happier to be there.
Do you see how common sense the adaptations can be?
What questions do you have about a good fit between parents and children?