Parenting a Choleric Child

Meet my daughter, Elizabeth. She was an adventuresome baby, energetic, precocious, bright and wide-eyed. The moment she let out her first, loud cry, I knew she was going to be the ‘leader’, that she was going to set the pace of the family, and most of the time, she did (as a Phlegmatic mother, most of the time I just ‘give in’ to avoid further confrontation).

She is now a very daring and eager four years old. She is a productive worker, always busy (she asked if she could go to the pre-school Monday-Friday full time, probably because there’d be people and friends and things that would keep her constantly going instead of spending a day with a boring Phlegmatic mother like me!). She moves quickly, self-sufficient, very competitive, assertive and trustworthy. She knows how to show temper tantrums, to ‘get’ her own way insistently. She certainly knows how to test and to argue, not to mention her stubborness (I learned not to give her the word ‘NO’ as it seems to encourage her even more).

I love her to bits, and I’m not trying to put her characters in a box so I can label her. This is naturally who she is. These traits run in her bloods. Knowing and understanding these traits help us both in our relationship. With her secondary personality as a Sanguine, she is a strong extrovert. She loves attention, she craves affection, her love language is touch (plenty of cuddles), rejection hurts her, being ignored annoys her. She is innocently trusting everyone, including strangers (she warms up to people quickly, especially when she starts to tell you her tale and you showed interest, that’s it, she’d be taken completely). She is a chatter and she bounces back quickly. She is, what some people would call, a charismatic leader. She has followers and she loves it! One day I dropped her at pre-school a little later then usual. By the time we got there, nearly all the other children were already there (we were usually the first). As Elizabeth walked into the room, all her friends (including the littlest ones) ran to her to talk to her. She had this big smile on her face, as if their action had made her day. I compared this to other days when we arrived earlier, and suddenly it clicked to me the expression she usually gave as she walked into an empty room. She was a bit upset that nobody there to ‘greet’ her. I decided to arrive slightly later ever since (altough it bothers me that we’re slightly late – this is my Melancholic part who always worry about punctuality!).

I am a Phlegmatic with a secondary personality as a Melancholic. This means I am a strong introvert. Putting this into an analog, Elizabeth and I are like the south and the north poles of this earth. She is everything I am not, and I am everything she is not. These extremeties is the factors that would attract two individuals in a chemistry (aka the lovey dovey) relationship. It certainly has its advantage in our parent-child relationship. She made a lovely company and I can speak to her as if she’s a grown up. She would play contently on her own while I get on with my work. She cheers me up with her constant chatters and singing. At the same time, she drains me (being a mother is draining anyway, but if you are a Phlegmatic mother, the feeling is more intense, and if you have a choleric child, it’s doubled!). The most draining part of parenting is, of course, setting up boundaries. Elizabeth would constantly push and test. As a choleric, she can sense whenever I’m in the mood of ‘do whatever you like, as long as you would leave me alone’! She can be certain that she’d get her own way. To set the boundaries, I have to think as a choleric person, I have to be a choleric person, in order to understand how to get around her, and at the same time not making her feel as I treat her differently from her brother.

Jonathan is a Melancholic-Phlegmatic, like myself but his Melancholic personality is stronger. It comes natural to me to interact with him, since we both are strong introvert. It’s so straightforward to set boundaries for him, he doesn’t need many in the first place as his sense of order is already strong, he knows right from wrong. I’m comparing my children’s personality, not to favour any, but instead to make sure my treatment to them is personal yet equal at the same time, and they know that.

I learned that, if I want to establish rules, I have to set it out clearly the moment I sense a mischieve is coming. For example, when Elizabeth was finally out of her buggy, she got super excited being able to sit on a proper seat on a bus. She sat on one seat, then she decided to move on to another. I allowed this. Then she decided to try another seat. By now I sensed, that if I didn’t set a boundaries straight away, I’d end up with a child out of control, on a public place, and maybe I’d end up shouting and she’s ignoring me, which would be embarasing. She’d pick up on this experience and do it again the next time. So, I picked her up quickly, sat her on my lap, and said ‘have a cuddle with Mummy’. This distracted her and she loves cuddle anyway. She wanted to go back to her seat and I gave her a condition, she could sit on her own as long as she stay seated on the seat she’s chosen. She usually would willingly follow a clear instruction given in a firm tone (followed by a praise or affirmation or a quick kiss). If it was Jonathan, I could just simply say that it is not the place to play. He’d sense it’s a wrong thing to do and he’d oblige sraightaway.

Parenting certainly has its ups and downs. I’m grateful for my children. I’m blessed with two little people of different temperaments; one is a natural leader and the other is a natural thinker. They both work together perfectly (until they start having too much of each other and needing some space, Jonathan more than Elizabeth). I certainly don’t have the knacks as a mother, far from it, there’s always something to learn everyday. I just do my best in raising them (with God’s help) and the rest is in God’s hand.

What about you? Apart from the ‘God’ stuff, how do you find the experience of parenting?

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