We often talk about how our kids can be our greatest teachers. Sometimes, that's when the exasperation of parenting them drives us to further educate ourselves on how on earth to do it! Our own Flicka Williams recently did the fabulous webinar on Maggie Dent's website called, 'Dear Little Boys'. Being able to understand her little 'rooster' kid has meant she can parent him more effectively, with more understanding, and with less frustration!
Here's a little snapshot of some of Maggie's wisdom, but we highly recommend you get along to her website and check out the life-changing courses she has available there. A much more digestible way of getting information than reading a book sometimes, especially when it lands on your sleeping face only a couple of pages in!
What’s the ‘rooster and lamb continuum’?
Maggie talks about children's temperaments landing somewhere on 'the rooster and lamb continuum'. It's never going to be a case of 'either/or' but you might notice your child has traits that land more in one camp than the other. She says, “Imagine the cartoon character Linus (from the ‘Peanuts’ comic strip); he would be a lamb. Lambs are generally quieter children, more accommodating and content with life. They make us look like fantastic parents. Then imagine Dennis the Menace; he would be a rooster. Roosters are often loud, strong-willed and full of beans. Roosters’ parents frequently feel like we’re doing a terrible job.”
Typical rooster characteristics include:
– dislike sharing
– impatient and impulsive
– fast learning
Typical lamb characteristics include:– sensitive to discipline
– distress easily
– dislike loud noises
– like solo time
– struggle with large social situations
– like routines
– easy going
Parenting Rooster Boys– Give them opportunities to develop autonomy and independence, perhaps allowing them to be your ‘special helper’, so they feel important and valued.
– Invest time and energy to build the ‘caring’ traits of emotional awareness, empathy and understanding before age five. Otherwise, these children will tend to become dominant, bossy or even bullying.
– Rooster children often love challenge, change and adventure, and need plenty of opportunities to diffuse energy – especially in nature.
– One annoying trait of roosters is that they tend to question your parenting – often. If you can, bear in mind that this questioning is not because your child wants to annoy you, rather, it is because they are seeking clarification of the choices you are making on their behalf.
– Ironically, if we want our children to grow up and value themselves and their choices, and to encourage self-assertiveness, we need to value and respect their needs and wishes by really hearing them.
Parenting Lamb Boys– Forcing children to connect or interact before they have ‘warmed up’ can be quite stressful and often make them more fearful. The same goes for shy children – slowly build confidence by respecting their sensitive nature.
– As lambs often lack personal courage and confidence, it is important for parents to help build these emotional competencies while they are under five if possible. Lambs need extra time building comforting patterns and attachment, and they love regularity and routine.
– Encouraging them to take risks in their play and learning, and ensuring you build their capacity to be assertive and capable socially, can really help lambs become stronger and more resilient. Never force a lamb to do something they are reluctant to do.
– Often children born with a lamb temperament have the deep-seated desire to help others, whether they are animals or people. They have a natural degree of empathy from an early age and can sometimes become worried when things happen, even across the world. It is important to be mindful of the media that lambs are exposed to. They are easily scared and sometimes moments of terror.
Learning to work with them, not against them
It's so powerful to understand your child better; what they need from you as a parent, what competencies they'll need your help to develop, and how to connect and communicate with them in a way that means they feel really seen and heard. Building that awareness means you can work with the more challenging aspects of your child's temperament, rather than feeling like you're working against them. It starts to take the stress and pressure out of parenting them and means you can finally answer that nagging question, 'am I doing a good job of this?' Yes, you are doing a good job.
When you build your awareness and respond directly to your child's individual needs, in whatever way they are capable of expressing those needs to you, you are supporting the growth of a secure and loving connection with your child. Not every day is going to be a good day on the parenting front, but remember, it is not the rupture that causes problems, it's the lack of repair. Remember to spend some time reconnecting at the end of the day when things have calmed down, take a few deep breaths and when necessary, use the well-worn mantra, 'tomorrow's another day!'