GOODNESS OF FIT
Each caregiver and parent is unique in his or her own temperament. The compatibility between adult child temperaments can affect the quality of relationships. This compatibility is often referred to as “goodness of fit.” A goodness of fit happens when an adult’s expectations and methods of care giv ing match the child’s personal style and abilities. What is most beneficial about the goodness of fit concept is that it does not require that adults and children have matching temperaments.
The parent or caregiver does not have to change who they are naturally, they can simply alter or adjust their care giving methods to be a positive support to their child’s natural way of responding to the world. For example, if a child is highly active, a caregiver may pack extra activities in the diaper bag for waiting times at visits to the Dr., grocery store lines, etc. For a child who needs some extra time in approaching new activities, a caregiver might stay close by, giving the child time to adjust and feel safe.
BENEFITS OF CREATING A “GOODNESS OF FIT” FOR YOUR CHILDREN
– Avoid some of the recurring battles that take place within your home
– Build a more trusting, respectful relationship with your children
– Raise children’s self esteem
TIPS FOR CREATING “GOODNESS OF FIT” BETWEEN CHILDREN AND PARENTS
Know and understand your children’s temperament and their usual way of reacting in situations.
Know and understand your own temperament and your typical ways of responding to your children.
Identify how your temperaments fit and don’t fit together. Do you tend to react mildly to things while your children
have intense reactions? Are you both highly sensitive to sounds and tastes? Do you adapt quickly while your children have a tough time adapting to new routines?
Consider how your reactions to your children affect their behaviour. What is your response when your children’s temperament clashes with your expectations? How do your reactions impact the outcome of your interactions?
Work to respond more sensitively and effectively to your children. Be aware of the language you use and learn to describe and re frame some of the negative labels with positive labels.
Look at the situation, including the physical environment and others’ temperaments, and assess how well or not so well it fits with your children’s temperament. Have a child that is highly active, plan a trip to the playground where the child can run and climb before you head out to the store to go shopping.
Anticipate your children’s needs and reactions. Work together to plan for successful outcomes. For example, if your child is low on adaptability and slow to approach new situations, prepare him or her in advance for new situations by being as specific and detailed as you can about what he or she can expect. Help your children learn ways they can help themselves “fit” better in all environments.
Teach your children about their temperament and about “goodness of fit”. Teach them what they can do to manage both. Parents can create a “goodness of fit” between their children and planned Activities so that it becomes a win win for everyone. This involves taking into account the child’s temperament and what he or she needs in order to feel comfortable in a particular setting. If children typically get stressed in crowded places, visits to stores can be made during their slowest hours.
Do not force children who have difficulty talking to strangers to talk to new people or relatives they haven’t seen in a while. Give them time to feel comfortable this is being respectful of the children’s temperament and can avoid a meltdown or any child feeling badly about himself or herself
TUNE INTO YOUR CHILDREN’S INDIVIDUALITY
Do Not Punish for Temperamental Style
If a child is shy, he or she should not be reprimanded for being hesitant toward a stranger. If the child adapts gradually, he or she shouldn’t be punished for not obeying completely if his or her response is better than last time (moving in the right direction). If the child is intense, he or she shouldn’t be criticized for being loud when he or she feels upset, just as he or she isn’t punished for being loud when he or she is happy. If a child is irregular, he or she shouldn’t be punished for not being hungry at every meal or not ready to sleep at every bed time. Notice the times when things are going well. How are you reacting at the times when you and he or she is feeling good about each other? There are clues there about what the child needs.
Recognize and Accept the Way the Child Really Is
If parenting is stressful and your child doesn’t act like the one next door, he or she may be “spirited” and need specialised parenting techniques. You may need to learn more about how to parent a spirited child than the parent next door.
Recognize Your Feelings toward the Child
It can be isolating to feel that you are frustrated rather than fulfilled as a parent, that you are stressed by parenting rather than energized by it, and that you sometimes wish that your child was different. Lots of other parents have these feelings. Find a way to discuss these feelings honestly. It will probably benefit your child also if you do.
Recognize your child’s temperament and respect his or her uniqueness without comparing him or her to others or trying to change your child’s basic temperament. Be aware of your own temperament and adjust your natural responses when they clash with your child’s responses
Explain decisions and motives. Listen to the child’s points of view and encourage teamwork on generating solutions.
Help your child develop self control. Respect opinions but remain firm on important limits and boundaries that you have created. Keeping a constant routine and rules will help your child feel more secure and stable.
Be a Role Model
Children learn by imitation. They are highly absorbent when it comes to mirroring behaviours and picking up on emotions. The better you can cope, the easier it will be for your child to learn how to cope as well.