Little People, BIG Personalities – keeping 2 steps ahead!

Now you know the kids in your care a little better, or you have realized that there are certain traits that a common among kids.  The question that begs answering now is, what to do about it!?  Of course you can’t be all things to all people, but if you build something into your day for each of your personality types, you will end up with a happier group of kids, and therefore, a happier you!  You will also find that one discipline strategy will work brilliantly for one type of child, or for a certain time frame, but that sometimes, you’ll need to come up with something different.  Here’s some ideas to get you started.

Social Butterfly:  Being in care with other kids is often enough for this child. They love to play with others, and often lead the games or crafts, so make them your helper when working with these activities. If you can plan an outing into your day where they can meet up with even more kids, even better!  When it comes to misbehaviour, removing this child from the fun is highly effective. A “chore” is another good way to deal with it, especially while the others are having fun.

Energizer Bunny: Make sure you allow for time for this type of child to engage in BIG movements. Playing tag, creating an obstacle course, setting up a running race; these are all activities that will appeal to this type of child AND allow them to burn off energy in the mean time. Sometimes this child will burn him/herself out, and so some quiet time reading a book, or doing lego alone is a good way to redirect misbehaviours.
Shy Guy: Building in time for transitions is important for this child.  One-on-one quiet time with you will be extra sweet for this child. When new children come into your home or meet up at the park, be there with this child to slowly allow them to warm up to the newcomer. A time-in is probably the best discipline strategy for this little monkey. When they misbehave its not usually because they are being mean, its because they are completely overwhelmed, and so may need a cuddle with you and a favorite stuffy to come back to normal.
People Pleaser: Here is your built in helper. To ensure that they are helping in a positive and confidence building way, have them help you guide activities – hand out the craft supplies, set the table, tell everyone its lunch time, etc. Time with other kids is also important as they like to be with people! So, make a date with another dayhome to meet up at the park so your little people can play with other little people. Redirecting misbehaviours with a “chore” instead of a time out/in is a good way to manage misbehaviours with this one.
Sly Guy: Keep this one busy! Often they get into mischief because they are bored!  Give this child origami, lego, kinects, bead crafts, puzzles, etc. to keep their brains engaged. They will be so busy thinking of how to solve the problem you’ve given them that they won’t have time to get into trouble…. hopefully. Removal from the group or situation is the best solution for this child. However, a talk and explanation after is a good way to keep misbehaviours from happening again.
The Sensitive Soul: Be careful about what games you play, shows you watch or books you read with this child. Just like with overly harsh discipline, they internalize everything, and then they can really work themselves up into being really upset over something little. Praise and rewards are really important for this child because they NEED to know when they have done a good job. To counteract the negative talk that they can engage in, sometimes you need to really pour it on thick for a while. When it comes to discipline, time outs are best, with a chat afterwards, so they can remove themselves from the situation and talk themselves down.

As always, you know the kids in your life well. If you have a sensitive soul who REALLY needs “time-in”, instead of “time-out”, then that’s the way to go! I have found that sometimes kids will get themselves in trouble, almost on purpose, so they can get a time-out. They aren’t mature enough to just take themselves off when they need a break, but will cause a situation so they get one!  

Sometimes the time-out becomes almost a reward, at which point its time to change tactics! I have a list on my fridge of “time-out alternatives” – these are small chores, loss of toys, loss of screen time, etc. When you are in the heat of the moment, your brain doesn’t always think clearly, so its good to have a backup!  The best discipline in my opinion is a natural consequence.  For example, Johnny wears his shoes in the house after you specifically told him not to, so Johnny gets to sweep the floors when you get back from the park.
The flip side of discipline is rewards.  I also have a list of these on my fridge – extra park time, extra screen time, stars earned towards a bigger reward, extra time with one or the other parent, play dates, etc. Natural rewards work really well too – get all the things you need to done BEFORE you have to leave for school, and you will have the rest of the time to play!  Often a hug, high five or just good old fashion praise is all the reward kids need or want. They want please to you and make you proud, so let them know when you are!
The world would be an awfully dull place if we were all the same. Relish the differences in your kids, and enjoy the mental gymnastics in trying to keep up with them! Who needs crossword puzzles and brain teasers when you are trying to think 2 steps ahead of the kids around you!

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