I’ll be right up front and tell you that tell you that I don’t pretend to understand your children. Seriously, I have three of my own. All complete opposites. I have enough to do, thank you very much, without worrying about your kids.
Don’t believe that? Okay. Truth be told – I’m a teacher through and through. I strive to appreciate every child I work with, and if you ask me about your child, (as some of you have), I’m happy to give you my observations. I really do want you help you be successful in the art of parenting.
I can also share what I’ve learned about how to really get to know them. And why would you want to get to know them? Besides the obvious fact that you like your children, of course! Your children are born with unique personalities, skills, gifts, talents, learning styles, and characteristics. It’s our job as parents to support our children as they mature.
Understanding your child will assist you to guiding them as they grow. For instance, knowing your child’s learning style (In order to understand concepts, do they need to see it, hear it, or do it?) will tell you how to help them with learning to read, tell time, or grasp their addition facts.
Children arrive with some prewiring. I don’t mean that they can’t change and grow, but they aren’t blank slates, either. How my 3 children behaved in utero was how they acted after they arrived on the outside. One was a poker – he’s 13 and he still “pokes” at me verbally if he wants my attention. One was a roller – I looked like a pregnant Sigourney Weaver from the movie Alien. He still is a whole body mover. He needs to move to learn. He moves when things get emotionally difficult to deal with. He rolls on the floor a few times in the middle of a particularly intense violin lesson, and then gets up and is ready to work again. My two boys will always be pokers and rollers.
The best way to understand your children is to simply observe them. Playing, working, sleeping, eating. What are the character traits that continually show themselves? Are they introverted or extroverted? What are their favorite activities? Those things are your child’s “normal”. Most of the time, your child’s “normal” is perfectly okay. And you need to be okay with it, too.
You don’t like going to the zoo every weekend, but your daughter begs, rain or shine? Think about what clues that gives you. Nurture that love of nature. If you don’t want to go to the zoo again, find new museums, take a field trip to the vet’s office, check out library books about reptiles for your visual learner. Get a pet for your “doer” to take care of.
Want to get to know someone? Ask a lot of questions! So, ask your child open-ended questions. (Those questions that require more than a yes or no answer.) Instead of asking your child who they played with in school, ask them what they played.
Miss Allison (a great observer of children) gave me some more ideas to pass along to you:
When you read a book to them ask them what their favorite part was… who their favorite character was…
Have a verbal child tell you a story. You’ll discover a lot about what they think about, and feel, are scared of… wishing for…
Watch how they play with small pretend play manipulatives: people toys (like action figures and Polly Pocket type things) and anthropomorphized animal toys, too, plastic animals or dinosaurs, small stuffed animals. Large motor pretend play is usually done with other children, but small motor pretend play is often done alone, so you only see what your child is interested in rather than what they are willing to compromise on.
Pay attention to the skill sets that confuse them or make them frustrated. Those activities are pointing you toward the areas the child isn’t as comfortable with, may be stuck with, or toward personality traits such as perfectionist, or short tempered.
Make a point of playing with your child in different areas of development. Do a puzzle one day, take a nature hike the next. Ride bikes, or work on pedaling, build with blocks, color and do a craft, sing a song, tell a story so that you can see where your child is gifted, where they struggle and most importantly, where they are growing and where they are not growing.
With lots of observation and interaction, you’ll have the knowledge of what tools and toys to provide, to assist them in reaching their next level of maturity.
-posted by Miss Analiisa, who sees so many of her sister’s and mother’s traits in her daughter that it’s more than a bit freaky.
Image: Naypong / FreeDigitalPhotos.net