The Science of Parenting

About Those “Easy” Kids | S. 3 Ep. 14

November 05, 2020 Iowa State University Extension and Outreach Season 3 Episode 14
The Science of Parenting
About Those “Easy” Kids | S. 3 Ep. 14
Chapters
The Science of Parenting
About Those “Easy” Kids | S. 3 Ep. 14
Nov 05, 2020 Season 3 Episode 14
Iowa State University Extension and Outreach

Many children are go-with-the-flow types, but these kids have specific needs, too. Learn how to teach them how to express their own voices to create their own break-out moments.

Send us an email: [email protected]
Find us on Facebook or Twitter: @scienceofparent.

This institution is an equal opportunity provider. For the full non-discrimination statement or accommodation inquiries, go to www.extension.iastate.edu/diversity/ext

Show Notes Transcript

Many children are go-with-the-flow types, but these kids have specific needs, too. Learn how to teach them how to express their own voices to create their own break-out moments.

Send us an email: [email protected]
Find us on Facebook or Twitter: @scienceofparent.

This institution is an equal opportunity provider. For the full non-discrimination statement or accommodation inquiries, go to www.extension.iastate.edu/diversity/ext

Mackenzie Johnson:

Hey, welcome to The Science of Parenting Podcast, where we connect you with research based information that fits your family. We'll talk about the realities of being a parent, and how research can help guide our parenting decisions. I'm Mackenzie Johnson, parent of two littles with their own quirks. And I'm a parenting educator.

Lori Hayungs:

And I'm Lori Hayungs, a parent of three in three different life stages, one's launched, one is in college, and one is in high school, and I am a parenting educator. And today we are going to continue talking about temperament. We launched our season back in August, we're going to continue all the way through November. And we finally got through all nine traits

Mackenzie Johnson:

We did. We covered it.

Lori Hayungs:

And last week, we shared a little bit about what we're going to do today, because today, we're going to talk through how all nine of those traits become these patterns in our life and carry all the way through adulthood. And so that's what we're going to talk about today.

Mackenzie Johnson:

I'm excited. And it's nice to, you know, we know each trait can look a little different for everybody, and you have a little, you have a lot, all those things, but to see how they kind of can like, you know, across all lines, they kind of form into these clusters or clumps or patterns.

Lori Hayungs:

They do. Okay, so let's first remind everyone what temperament is and what it isn't actually, before we get started. So temperament is our disposition. It's how we react to things around us that are happening, that are going on. And the idea is that temperament is different from personality, because temperament has always been there. Think about the babies in the nursery, no one taught them how to cry when they're hungry. No one taught them how to cry loudly, or more loudly, than the child next to them. They just came that way. So it is genetic. And what happens then is we begin to put on top of temperaments our life experiences, our growth and development, the relationships that we have around us, essentially our environment. And that's what begins to form our personality. But essentially, temperament was there first, it's always been there, and it will always be there.

Mackenzie Johnson:

Absolutely. And so we have been looking at the nine traits that Thomas and Chess, right? They did this research that identified these nine traits. We know that it looks different from different researchers, you know, even Jim Cameron and his colleagues at Kaiser Permanente, lots of research, right, over 30 years of research on thousands of kids' temperament profiles. And so we know there's a lot of great science behind understanding these traits. And so now we're going to look at Thomas and Chess' kind of patterns that they've identified, right. But we always like to give them a reminder. So we know everybody got every temperament trait, they got a little, they got a lot. And so it's going to form into these patterns that we now have. And if you want to go back and check out those episodes, of course, you can do that. But we also have a blog post that has all of our temperament resources. So you can go take a profile, you can check out some of the links, some of the researchers that we've been able to interview, I have links there and things like that. So check that out on our website, @scienceofparenting.org. And for today, we're going to talk a little bit more about these patterns, what you got to end of last week, but you're going to get a little more.

Lori Hayungs:

We couldn't not share the information from Rob right after we finished all nine traits. And so we decided we were going to share that information first and come back to why and how that all came together. So we've talked about all nine traits, we are going to look at now how these nine traits fall into kind of these clusters. So remember, we shared that we have this continuum of temperament traits, about 10 to 15% of individuals have traits that fall on either end of the extreme. And then in the middle, the rest, the majority is you know, kind of in that moderate level. Well, the same kind of percentages happen in terms of our three patterns, or our three clusters, about 15 to 20% fall into that shy or fearful pattern, which is a little bit of what Rob described last week, and about 15 to 20% fall into this feisty or spirited pattern, which is yet to come here next week with a super fun researcher. But this week, we are going to share about the pattern that ends up kind of being in the majority - that middle flexible pattern, and we wanted to dive deeply into this, because we think it's really important that while yes, this may be the majority, and maybe along the way, you've been saying to me, well, Lori, it depends. Well, Mackenzie, it depends. Well, guess what, that's because it's falling into this majority, this flexible pattern. So we do also want you to know that there might be different words utilized throughout the podcast, you've maybe heard or seen or read different words. So we're going to use the words fearful to describe the shy or inhibited pattern, we'll use the word feisty or spirited to describe the pattern that we hear and see and feel quite significantly. And then we'll use this flexible or moderate word to describe, you know, just that majority actually that kind of fall in the middle of easygoing.

Mackenzie Johnson:

Absolutely. And so different researchers, right. If you really dig into it, different researchers call it different things. But Lori and I are talking about like, okay, the words that I'll probably just say, right, the ones that just naturally come out of my mouth. I tend to say fearful, though we did hear Rob mostly use the word shy, right. So I tend to use the words fearful, flexible, and then spirited, because why would I just stick to feisty, right? And why would I just follow the three that go together. But spirited is what I tend to say.

Lori Hayungs:

Excellent. So let me describe the shy, inhibited or fearful child first, and this is the child that might refuse to try new things. They may be more cautious in general. You heard Rob describe a lot of characteristics and different types of temperament traits, specifically last week. They might be clingy or even resist separation. With these shy or fearful children, trips out of the house can be difficult. They are slow to warm up to new experiences, new people and new things. And honestly, for them adapting to life can be exhausting. And remember I said about 15 to 20% of us fall into this category.

Mackenzie Johnson:

Mm hmm. And I think of this, like tends to be kind of, I think of fearful kids, I tend to think of just kind of a homebody, comfortable, you know, but actually what really comes to mind across these three patterns, a family that I'm close to, they share this story about their kids. It's actually the first day of kindergarten for their child, you know, so they're like five or six, whatever. And they go to kindergarten, there's tears, right, for this fearful temperament child, tears and clinging to the leg. And, oh, please don't make me come back another day, right? They'd rather be home. Going to somewhere new with new expectations. It was just a really, really hard thing for them. So I know the parent talks about they remember the tears. And they remember how hard it was to leave them when they knew they didn't want to stay. And actually, I have, along this story, I have an example of the other patterns, too. So I'll let you describe this kind of spirited or feisty pattern before I tell you the rest of the story.

Lori Hayungs:

So let's talk about the feisty or spirited child. This child might be loud and boisterous when they're happy or sad. At times, they may melt down easily. And they can even, when you think about it, be fast moving and demanding. Sometimes they might seem out of control yet intent on having things their own way. They can actually become bored easily, and they may have trouble getting along with others. Now, again, 15 to 20% of us fall into this feisty pattern. And we did spend a little bit of time on this in our difficult demands episode. But we're going to be spending much more time on this in our next episode with our special guest - should I say it? - our special guest next week is Mary Sheedy Kurcinka, author of Raising Your Spirited Child, and author of her new book, Spirited Baby. That's the spirited, feisty child coming next week and finish your story about kindergarten.

Mackenzie Johnson:

Yes. Okay. So right the five or six year old child tends to have had that more like fearful temperament. Well, they had a younger sibling so they would have been like probably like three. Um, and so that sibling had to tag along for drop off, right. So parents walking in with their five year old as well as the three year old, five year old clings to the leg. Well, their very spirited three year old runs off and they're playing at the sand table, and then they're running over to the blocks. And so they're playing alongside all these kindergarten kids. So as the parent is trying to peel off their sweet, fearful child that needs to stay for kindergarten, they're also trying to drag out their feisty three year old who can't stay. So the fearful child who needs to stay for kindergarten, tears because they want to go home. The feisty child clinging to all the stuff, tears because they want to stay. Reality. Right? Yeah, full reality. And so just seeing that play out in those patterns, right? We know those traits, we always talk about temperament as a pattern of behavior. And so how those traits kind of pattern together and cluster together, you can see that one really wanted to be there and one really wanted to go.

Lori Hayungs:

Exactly. And the idea that these patterns exist within family units. Each child is different because of how those nine traits play together. And sometimes they play well together. And other times, it's more challenging.

Mackenzie Johnson:

So it's nice to look at these patterns this way. Because even there's been times, you know, I've said you have more experience with temperament than I do. And so there's been times when you've helped me, I'm like, okay, I see this behavior. What trait is this? And it's actually the pattern of how a couple traits fit together. So I think it's really nice to talk about these broader patterns, too, instead of just individual traits.

Lori Hayungs:

Exactly. And as we look at the fact that there are these two opposite end of the spectrum patterns, yes. What we also know is that there is this larger majority of temperament traits coming together that fall into this middle, flexible pattern. And when we look at that it's more moderate. And it's essentially kind of the go with the flow pattern, they might be easily soothed as an infant. They're okay and fine with having things change now, and then they can probably fit well into a variety of social groups, and they might actually comply with requests. And essentially, they're just more agreeable. And that's the pattern that we're going to spend the rest of this episode on. But I'm curious, did this kindergarten story have any other children involved in it?

Mackenzie Johnson:

So actually, this family has three children, right? They had the kindergartner at that time, who is the more fearful temperament. Their youngest child is a more feisty or spirited kid. And there's actually an older child and to be honest, I don't know that I've heard a lot of stories about like, you know, that there's not as much rigmarole or big drama. So I don't know that the older flexible child necessarily had a lot of big stories, and with stuff like that, but just because they are more easygoing, right. So they do. That family has a flexible, a fearful and a feisty temperament. And I think that story of like, the one who has to stay is the fearful one that wants to go home, trying to drag out the one that's not supposed to be there, but they want to stay. And then there's another child that was off just kind of doing whatever needs to be done. That more flexible. Just funny, the differences.

Lori Hayungs:

And there's no story, and that happens, like that legitimately happens with this flexible pattern is that all of a sudden people go, oh, well, I guess I can't think of a wild and crazy story.

Mackenzie Johnson:

Yeah. Like, oh, yeah, they must have already been at school, I don't know.

Lori Hayungs:

Where were they? They were waiting in the car. But these are some key considerations because as we look at that flexible pattern, you know, they may be termed easy or, you know, moderate and go with the flow. But honestly, there's going to be ups and downs as with any stage of development. And while they generally eat and sleep and accept limits easily, there just may be times when they simply have had enough. And often this is that time when we really need to key in and think, well, okay are they not feeling well? Or a e they anxious? Are they stresse ? Is someone taking advanta e of their flexibility? And so t really becomes importa t that we pay attention to and e watchful about their presenc .

Mackenzie Johnson:

Absolutely. And as I think of this, you know, flexible trait, like yes, easy going. And like, you know, maybe there's not a big story because there's just not as much drama, which I actually feel a little bad saying because then it sounds like the other traits are big drama, but really, a flexible child might not have big drama, which can also, honestly one of my kids being a more flexible child, I get nervous that they just like disappear into the background sometimes. Like, did we pay enough attention today. Were we queued in to what was going on with you. And so sometimes they're just that chameleon because they can get along with kind of whatever's going on. And yeah, that can be a fabulous thing or downright frightening thing. Because as I think about this for my child while they're in child care. If they're not the one having a hard time, they might not require as much energy or demand as much energy from the childcare provider or from their teacher. It's like, are they getting the attention? You know, and that they're probably not going to complain if they're not. So that does scare me a little bit about this flexible trait. Like, I feel like I need to advocate that they do have needs.

Lori Hayungs:

Absolutely. And the funny thing about this is, what you all don't know is we were having a discussion, and I talked about moving this flexible trait, and I wasn't talking about getting rid of this episode. And Mackenzie actually panicked on me and she said we can't not have flexible! I thought, okay, wait, no, I'm not talking about not having flexible. But it's that idea that we do need to stop and advocate for that flexible pattern because they can easily get lost. We miss their subtle cues. And honestly, kind of what happens is they just adapt and begin to take care of things. And so they almost become like these little adults, because they just take care of things. It's just what they naturally do.

Mackenzie Johnson:

Yes, they know how to, I almost think of the word like accommodating too, like, they know how to accommodate everything that's going on and just like, okay, I'll take care of it. And yeah, and I think those subtle cues, I think of this video that when you've taught a temperament class, before that I was co-teaching with you, you had this video that I loved. And it was in a preschool kind of classroom. And one kid is taking blocks off of another kid's tower as he's building it up. And this little flexible kid who's getting their blocks taken away, just kind of looking around, like, does anybody see what's happening? Okay. There's not tears, there's not shoving, there's like, it's just like, oh, bummer. Okay. So I think those subtle cues are a really important part of this flexible conversation.

Lori Hayungs:

They are. And one other story about older children might be that if you have a group of children all together, and you have all the patterns mixed in, and I remember a time that my flexible child was going to have her group of friends over to her house. And suddenly, one of the more feisty children, one of the more spirited children in the group said, hey, we're gonna have it at my house instead. And I remember looking at my child's face, my flexible child's face, and I could read her face, which was, I was really looking forward to having everyone come over here. But the words that came out of her mouth were, okay, let's go to your house. And I literally stopped the conversation. And I thought, oh, my goodness, I need to advocate for this flexible child, who just said it was okay for all of her friends to now go, and her as well, over to the spirited child's house. And so it seems like a silly thing to be worried about. But essentially, what we're doing is we're sharing that they need to have these life skills of standing up for themselves and being assertive and and recognizing that their needs and wishes and desires are important.

Mackenzie Johnson:

Absolutely. I kind of laughed, you know, you're right, Lori did say something about like, oh, maybe if we morph this episode, and I'm like, that we have to talk about like super flexible kids. Um, but part of that is, if I'm really honest, if you have multiple children, and you're listening to this podcast because you were like, oh, my gosh, I need help with... Chances are your flexible child was not the child you were thinking. Chances are, if you have multiple children, and you're like, oh, maybe temperament will help me with x, you might have maybe been thinking about a feisty child or spirited child or maybe you're fearful because the flexible child may not have quite as many demands as those other ones. So, yes. Why I think it's important to talk about.

Lori Hayungs:

Exactly. And I love the word you used chameleon. That just sends a picture for me that yes, that's that flexible child. Well, okay, so let's talk about the trait across the ages and stages.

Mackenzie Johnson:

Yes. So we see this kind of play out, right, we see, you know, talked about in other episodes on specific traits, where we looked at either end of the continuum for a trait across these different ages. We know as kids mature and develop the kind of developmental tasks are the things we see going on at those ages. We know that their temperament can really come out to play in some of those things. So let's look at that with this particular pattern. So as we think about our littles, right, our infants, how do we see this flexible pattern kind of come out?

Lori Hayungs:

Well, so I mentioned a little bit earlier that they might be that infant that's easy to soothe. And they actually may not cry much at all. And so again, that idea that we need to be paying attention, because we might be missing some of their subtle cues. As a toddler, when we think about them and becoming more independent, that's their development at that time is I want to be independent. Well, they actually might be that toddler that can be easily redirected from dangerous activities.

Mackenzie Johnson:

You're not supposed to be doing that, right? They can just head on over there.

Lori Hayungs:

They can. The preschooler, the preschool teacher might say, oh, wow, you know, your child really follows directions easily. And I think about when I was a preschool teacher, and once I learned about temperament, I had to think back to my preschool classroom, and I really spent some time remembering those flexible children. Because if I was to admit it, I would admit that in the heat of the moment, they were the children that I missed their subtle cues. They were the children whose parents would say, how is their day and I would say, oh, their day was good, because I literally couldn't think of what maybe they because they were so flexible. They were the chameleon in the room. And oh, that hurts my heart sometimes when I think about that. The school aged child, again, same kind of thing. The teacher might say they're a pleasure to have in the classroom. They're working on skills, like social development with their friends. They're working on mastery of skills. And so that flexible child is just going to figure it out. They're going to figure out that hard math problem on their own. They're going to solve problems because they are just flexible. As we look at the preteens and the teenagers, again, that story that I shared, of being accommodating to their friends, and so maybe moving freely in between social groups, being the teacher's helper, I mean, they might be willing to be the one who runs errands for the teachers. They're the kid probably that's coachable. And you know, coaches say, oh, you know, I can really, you know, count on them to make the change I'm asking them to change on the court. And so, you know, it's hard to not go on and on about how easy it might be to have a child with this pattern. But at the same time, there's that part of my brain that screaming, don't forget them, don't forget them, don't forget them.

Mackenzie Johnson:

Well, and honestly, this all just really reminds me, you know, kind of brings us to this place of saying what's wonderful about this temperament pattern about flexible kids, because there's good things and there's hard things at every stage of every pattern. And so what would you say is wonderful about the flexible temperament?

Lori Hayungs:

Well, I think that, to me, is obvious. And I think about myself, because I definitely fall into this flexible pattern. But I have to admit that the things that I think are wonderful are also the things that upset me sometimes. Why am I so accommodating? Why did I just say yes when what I really wanted to say was no? And so it is wonderful that as an infant or toddler, I was able to redirect my flexible child. As a preschooler, I was able to, you know, smile politely at the teacher that said, oh, you know, she gets along well with others. And as a teenager, I could smile politely when my friends were saying, I cannot handle this teenager anymore. And I kept thinking, wow, you know, I'm sorry about that. My chameleon is, you know, wonderful. So it's hard for me to appreciate the wonderfulness because in the back of my mind, being a flexible person, I keep thinking, okay, but what about, okay, but what about.

Mackenzie Johnson:

You see the liabilities.

Lori Hayungs:

I 100% do. I 100% do. Yes. How about you?

Mackenzie Johnson:

Yeah, I would say the flexible child being easygoing. And I would say even, you know, we talked about kids of difficult demands, and we're going to hear more about the spirited temperament pattern next week. I think, yeah, there are. I feel like a flexible child maybe has fewer demands. Not none. But that's the caution you're talking about. Not none. But maybe, yeah, their natural temperament doesn't demand as much of us as a parent. Okay. And I think another thing we have to kind of, I know we're supposed to be talking about what's wonderful, right? And I mean, which is funny because I feel like of all the things people would naturally say is wonderful, a flexible temperament is like, oh, yeah, this is great. But I do think that if we are a parent of flexible kids, sometimes it's easier for us to tiptoe under the judgment of other parents, like, well, if they would just...right? I remember having friends with kids around my age. Well, so and so's house isn't very kid friendly, or, you know, they're not really kid friendly, even though they have kids. Well, okay, but that person might have a flexible child who it's easy to redirect from the stuff that it's harder for your child to keep their hands off. And it's just a difference in your temperament. So, that is one thing I'd like as parents, if we tend to have flexible kids, we might forget about that more than one way to raise great kids because every kid's different.

Lori Hayungs:

Exactly.

Mackenzie Johnson:

But that is a wonderful thing about flexible kids, right? That we might feel like, being a parent is not as hard as maybe some of my other friends I've talked about, or my family members have experienced. I'm having an easier time, which is like, that's a great thing. We want you to find that joy. And to do that without also judging other people.

Lori Hayungs:

Exactly. Yeah. And that other idea, I know that our writer, Barb Dunn Swanson, talked about the idea of when I'm invisible, and so it can be the chameleon can enjoy that invisibleness. The chameleon can enjoy just taking care of things, just let me do my own thing. But we have to remember that we might miss cues, we might miss what they're saying, we might miss things. And then all of a sudden, you know, five or six months down the road, we can't figure out well, what happened. Things were building because our chameleon, our flexible child, has been just taking care of things this whole time. So yeah.

Mackenzie Johnson:

And so I think that kind of brings us to this perfect spot, you know. We have a section we call your reality. So as a listener, or a viewer, we give you the research and reality about this temperament pattern, and then we want to give you specific strategies. And so knowing that our kids can be a chameleon, you heard us say, don't forget, don't forget, about nine times. I might say it one more time, don't forget. Don't forget your flexible kids. Um, but yeah, what specific strategies? It's like, okay, I understand. I don't want to forget. But what else do I need to do with my child? And I feel like some of that kind of brings us to that goodness of fit concept again?

Lori Hayungs:

Mm hmm. Absolutely. That idea that we can learn to respond to our child's natural temperament. And remember that it's genetic. So we might also be flexible? Or if we're not, how can we fit into our child's natural temperament and appreciate their gifts, what those natural temperaments are. And essentially, that goodness of fit also helps us to not blame the child or even ourselves. It helps bring out the best in both of us. And ultimately, it might make our job easier. And yes, you know, sometimes our job is easier anyway with a flexible child. But learning to understand honestly, to watch for and be alert and present with our flexible child might help prevent behavior problems in the long run.

Mackenzie Johnson:

Absolutely. And so understanding this kind of chameleon that are flexible kids might be that, you know, we want to learn to respond and anticipate in those things. And so what are some of those things. I know you have some great strategies you had written out for us. Today is Lori's strategies. Normally, it's Mackenzie Johnson of the framework. But she had some great strategies about what should we practice intentionally? What strategies and techniques should we use with our flexible kids? Because we know they might be chameleons.

Lori Hayungs:

And I think if there is any of these four strategies, if there was one thing to sum it up, it would be words. Like sharing words. And what I mean by that is, you know, our first strategy is we need to teach our flexible child to speak up. We need to teach them to speak up, sharing those words, sharing techniques on how to be assertive, how to express with their body language, what it is that they desire. Another way we can do that is to practice and roleplay speaking up. So again, we're using our words. We're using our nonverbal words. We're using that practice, that modeling, that role playing. And again, we have desires and needs and it's important to teach our flexible children to speak up for their needs, to make requests for their needs. And I liken that to when my flexible child expresses her need, I do take that seriously. Because I think now she's finally speaking up. How many moments prior to this did she just let something happen or just take care of it herself. But right now she's speaking up. So heads up mom, pay attention because she really means it. She really has this need. Yeah, teaching your child to speak up, sharing techniques on how to be assertive, practicing and roleplaying speaking up and practicing and roleplaying making requests. I definitely tell my children, it is okay to say, I would really like this to happen. It's okay to say, I'm actually kind of mad about this. It's okay to say, I need this from you right now.

Mackenzie Johnson:

Absolutely. I think of situations with like older kids, you know, like your teens or your preteens, maybe, that it can be difficult to go talk to a teacher about a grade. So I think it's situations where that'd be a great example where you can roleplay like, okay, if I'm your teacher, what might you say to tell them? I think this grade was unfair, or I don't understand why I lost points for this so that we can roleplay that or give them some language of where to start, like you said, I want or I need or I'm feeling and give them some of those phrases, so they know where to start. So I even think of when you're like over at somebody's house, and well, I guess pre pandemic over at somebody's house, and I'm so thirsty. I really could use, I'm so thirsty, I would like, I need a drink. And it's good and it's perfectly polite to ask for a drink. But for that flexible kid, they might want to be accommodating, and they want to be no drama. So yes, giving them words to help them speak up. So they can be assertive, they can say their needs, you know, we can practice role playing with them. And, you know, even they can express not just needs but desires to like, I wanted all of my friends to come over to my house. Like, I wanted everyone to come over to our house today. That's a hard thing to say when you don't want there to be conflict.

Lori Hayungs:

It is and especially if you're a child who has rarely spoken up or spoken out or spoken against. When you do that, you know, people might be taken aback and you know, they might be rendered speechless. The teacher might think, wow, um, I need to pay attention because she really has not ever questioned her grade before. Yes, you might have something here. So it is important to teach that flexible child to speak up.

Mackenzie Johnson:

Yes, absolutely. So speaking of speaking up, we're probably ready to bring our producer Mackenzie DeJong in for what we call our Stop. Breath. Talk. space. As you remember, if you listen to previous episodes, this is one of our favorite techniques in parenting to stop, take a breath and get our bodies re-regulated and then talk so we're gonna let Kenz bring us a question here. And I hope it's not a stumper because I think we don't know what she's gonna ask.

Mackenzie DeJong:

Speaking of speaking up, you know, I have no problem speaking up.

Lori Hayungs:

Bringing in our spirited producer.

Mackenzie DeJong:

Yeah, right. Yeah. So my question is on kind of the opposite side of what you've been talking about. So you talk about how do we help those flexible kiddos speak up for themselves or how do we help them and how do we not forget them? As the spirited person, my question is more along the lines of how do I or how does a kid like me help to not do that as well. So how do I not step on their toes? Like how do you help? I guess it's how do you help those kids learn to not, well, obviously don't steal blocks, but to respect that not everyone is going to be as loud as you are or as boistrous as you are. So can you give advice to the parents of those feisty kids or those spirited kids to help build up those more flexible kids?

Lori Hayungs:

So I'm hearing you ask how can how can we help the feisty children understand the flexible child? Yes. Okay. So this is kind of one of those things where I have said to my children in different places and times because I do have one that's more fearful and two that are more flexible, right? So not necessarily the feisty child but having to help a child understand a different pattern. Absolutely. So I've said things like, you know how you just said that, this is what I heard? Or when you say this, or when your hands do this, or when your body language does this or when your shoulders do this, this is how someone else, you know, I might use the child's name, this is how someone else understands, or this is what they think you're saying. And again, so what is it? What's my strategy - words? Sure, yes. And I think that because I spent so many years as a flexible person not using my words, suddenly realizing that words, and teaching children how to utilize words is so important to me. And so that same concept of if you're a feisty child, let me teach you how your words sound to a child who is flexible. If you're a fearful child, let me teach you how your actions look to a flexible child. Is that even helpful?

Mackenzie Johnson:

I feel like that makes sense.

Mackenzie DeJong:

Yeah. And it kind of sparks this other idea with the understanding that other people communicate in ways that aren't words. Okay, I'll stop then and you go.

Mackenzie Johnson:

It's actually kind of funny, because, yeah, you thought use words. And I thought, help kids understand some non-verbals, right. So I even think about right now, my kids, the age they're at, my more flexible child is the younger one, kind of in that toddler stage, and my older child. So sometimes my older child even just wants to give a very affectionate hug, which if I'm really honest, sometimes a tackle, and so helping my older child hear and recognize and see, okay, when he pushes with his hands, he might be saying, no, thank you. When he is, I mean, he's not super verbal yet, you know, so when he is screeching maybe is the word, that's maybe a too dramatic word for it, just like making a noise that's showing he doesn't like it. And so I think of helping your child and even I think I've just pointed it out, like, I noticed that you're crossing your arms when we're talking about, oh, I've been feeling like you don't like that idea. And so noticing and kind of parroting that, you know, like saying to the child, I noticed this nonverbal? Or did you notice that your friend was walking away when you tried to do this? And so helping them find that kind of subtle and the nonverbal? And yeah, helping explain the impact of their actions, instead of just don't take blocks? Mm hmm. When you take blocks from your friend's tower, they can't build their tower. Right. And so explaining the implication of those behaviors, I think. So then I guess that is using words. Back to using words.

Mackenzie DeJong:

Yeah. But yeah, that idea that just because you express it this way, loudly, they might express it very quietly, but they're still feeling the same feelings. Yes.

Lori Hayungs:

Yeah. And that same idea of, I know, it sounds loud. But inside, it doesn't feel loud. And so I know it sounds like maybe they're angry, but they're really not angry. They're just talking loudly about how they feel.

Mackenzie DeJong:

You're talking about the spirited person, right?

Lori Hayungs:

Because sometimes as a flexible person, I can completely take a feisty, spirited person the wrong way. Yeah, yes. I think, wow, they're really ticked off and I had to learn, well, they're actually not mad. They're just loudly expressing intensity in a way that I'm not used to.

Mackenzie DeJong:

Lori deals with Mackenzie and I, so.

Lori Hayungs:

Easy peasy.

Mackenzie DeJong:

Was there yelling that happened before this recording?

Mackenzie Johnson:

No, wasn't me.

Mackenzie DeJong:

That was just frustration coming out. And Lori would have been like, it's all right.

Lori Hayungs:

We're okay. And that just shows that every temperament has really great things about it that we need. We need these mixes and matches and have all of these people on our teams and our family. Right and understanding. I just think about some of the rich conversations and rich learning that we've all had, as we've been going through this season thinking I understand now why this happens this way. I understand now why she said it this way. I understand now how we should move this forward.

Mackenzie Johnson:

Yeah, I cannot even say the number of times I've been like, okay, wait. As we walked through, I literally sent a text to my friend when we were getting ready to record a previous episode because like this trait, this trait that I've heard you talk about, we didn't know it was this. There's been so many ahas this season?

Mackenzie DeJong:

Yeah, if y'all think you've learned a lot as we talked about temperament, we have learned just as much if not more about ourselves, about the people around us, about temperament in general. It's been phenomenal just as a learning experience for not only you but for us, too.

Mackenzie Johnson:

Yes.

Lori Hayungs:

So thank you, Mackenzie, for joining us

Mackenzie Johnson:

Yes. We'll get down another episode. Today, we were able to, you know, we covered a little bit more of what each of these patterns, some people call them clusters, what each of these patterns are of this fearful, flexible and spirited or feisty. You know, we looked at this flexible temperament trait as kind of accommodating and more easygoing, your look very little drama kind of kid. We see it play out basically they're agreeable, right, across the different ages, and that they might be our chameleons that we need to watch out for.

Lori Hayungs:

Excellent. Absolutely. So thanks for joining us on today's podcast. Remember to subscribe to our weekly audio podcast on Apple or Spotify or your favorite app. And make sure you watch us on video on Facebook each week or you can join us periodically as we take your comments live. We will be going live at the end of our temperament season, so feel free to send us your questions at [email protected]

Mackenzie Johnson:

Yes, please come along with us as we tackle the ups and downs, the ins and outs, and the research and reality all around The Science of Parenting.

Anthony Santiago:

The Science of Parenting is a research based education program hosted by Lori Hayungs and Mackenzie Johnson, produced by Mackenzie DeJong, with research and writing by Barbara Dunn Swanson. Send in questions and comments to [email protected] and connect with us on Facebook and Twitter. This program is brought to you by Iowa State University Extension and Outreach. This institution is an equal opportunity provider for the full non discrimination statement or accommodation inquiries go to www.extension.iastate.edu/diversity/ext.