I was speaking at a MOPS group (Mothers of Pre-schoolers) meeting last week and was asked by a young mom, “When my child is extremely tired, is it a certain temperament that makes her react so violently to everyone?”
“Violently?” I questioned, “Do you mean a temper tantrum?” I was interested in her choice of words.
She explained her other two kids had gone through the terrible twos with some tantrums. However, this third child is just plain angry at everyone when she is tired, and throws violent fits. She hits anyone within touching distance.
First, let me say, all temperaments have an unattractive side in very tired children. This is why children need to learn RESPECT for authority when they are very young. Also, every temperament comes with a natural, pre-disposition to strengths and weaknesses.
Especially in young children, regarding weaknesses, you will notice:
YELLOWS are more dramatic than most. Bystanders may think you are abusing them.
BLUES pout deeply, acting as if you have devastated them forever.
GREENS are the quietest whiners.
However, REDS are born with a tendency to anger.
This is often noticed in very young children. When discovered early enough, it is possible for them to be taught self-control, empowering them to successfully manage their own behavior.
I encouraged the mom to set up a consequence – SOON – that would stop the child’s violent behavior. The longer one allows a child to throw violent tantrums, the harder it is on the child. Children, by nature, love boundaries. Boundaries make a child feel loved and secure.
We talked a few more minutes. She was thrilled I had given her permission to work on this situation. Somehow, she had felt backed into a corner, with no authority to stop the process. Her husband, a quiet GREEN, seemed overwhelmed and powerless. He blamed the horrible behavior on the child’s temperament.
Yes, each temperament comes with both positive and negative traits. I believe the negative traits can actually provide insight into what tools are needed in training our kids. If we recognize the child’s temperament, it empowers us to recognize which consequences might work! Little REDS are strong, requiring strong boundaries.
Teaching a child RESPECT will accomplish wonders with every temperament. Teach a child to say, “Okay, mommy” when you issue instructions. This, alone, will solve a myriad of problems. The parent is to be the one in control of the household – not the child.
I teach musical theatre. When I issue instructions to a classroom of kids, I am immediately able to spot which children are allowed to question and argue with their parents at home. I know when a child has not been taught respect. I love all the kids and make sure they know it. Therefore, I can demand respect, and get respect – period.
I recommend a great book by Jill Rigby: Raising Respectful Children in a Disrespectful World!
Remember, all ages have rough seasons. So, do yourself a favor and teach your kids RESPECT – straight from the womb!