Individual Differences In Children

Children exhibit a broad variety of moods and behaviors and are responsive to an equally broad variety of teaching approaches from parents.

Some children have a much more difficult time regulating their irritability. Their moods tend to be more negative. Often these children have difficulty sustaining easy, light behavior. They become quickly overstimulated and can turn aggressive and nasty. In their fantasy play they seem to obsess on themes of violence and may be easily over- stimulated by violent cartoons and movies.

Other children tend to exhibit very happy moods and show little if any irritability. However, they may also show a tremendous craving for external stimulation and excitement. Turn your back and the boy is hanging from the curtain rod. Blink your eye and the girl is riding her tricycle down the stairs. Unfortunately they don’t respond at all to punishment and seem to have trouble developing a conscience.” These children learn about their feelings in a very different way from irritable, moody children.

Then there are those children who seem to internalize everything. Often they are susceptible to a broad array of psychosomatic complaints such as headaches and stomachaches. It is easier for them to describe physical pain than it is for them to sort out their emotions.

Watch how your own children behave in very stimulating, emotionally laden situations. Take them to a video arcade at a local mall, a county fair, or even a busy department store. How do they respond to the noise level? Do they cling to you and seem upset by the high level of stimulation? Some children are able to tolerate these noisy and confusing places very well. Others, though, may seem to crave this level of stimulation but soon become very disorganized by it. They appear hyperactive and behave without regard for people or objects around them. When you attempt to restrain their behavior, they become irritable and almost frantic. Try to understand just how your children tolerate stimulation and regulate emotion. This will be your best measure of how they can learn self-control.