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The Challenging Child - Part 1

Gentle Parenting

T. Berry Brazelton has called him, " One of the leading psychiatrists of our time." He is the author of many books including First Feelings and Playground Politics. Now Stanley Greenspan, M.D. (With Jacqueline Salmon) has written a new book entitled The Challenging Child.

Greenspan and others have identified five basic personality patterns which arise from inborn physical characteristics. In The Challenging Child, he decribes each personality types of difficult or "challenging" children: 1. The highy sensitive child; 2. The self-absorbed child; 3. the defiant child; 4. The inattentive child; and 5. The active agressive child. Parents are then able to identify which personality type best fits their child. He sums up each chapter with an engaging case history and specific parenting ideas.

The Highly Sensitive Child often makes mountains out of molehills emotionally. She experiences her feelings fully and strongly. She can seem to be very moody, self-centered, demanding, clingy, whiny, bossy, throwing lots of tantrums kind of child. And she is. Her feelings have seemingly taken over her. The overly sensitive child can easily feel overwhelmed by physical sensations as well. A friendly touch may feel harsh to her, for example. These childrem often do feel bombarded by inward and outward sensations and emotion, and they usually react accordinly--grandly, strongly, and intensely.

The Self-Absorbed Child often begins life as a very "easy" baby. The baby who withdraws may be content to just lie and stare at a mobile. He seems to be looking inward. These children often sit alone, away from the kids playing together on the playground. He doesn't make eye contact. Such children are often physically uncoordinated, with poor muscle tone. They have difficulty understanding what's being said to them, coupled with a difficulty putting their own thoughts into words. Communication with a seemingly uninterested or rejecting child can be extremely draining and emotionally exhausting.

The Defiant Child: "NO! NO! NO! You are not my boss!" Does this sound familar? These children have a great need to feel organized and in control, and they focus intently on one task. Difficulties often arise during transition from one activity to the next. The defiant child tends to see the world in a perfectionist wat--all-or-nothing type thinking-and can get very upset when things don't go the way she thinks they should.

The inattentive Child is seen as one who finds it hard to concentrate and attend, and is easily distracted. These children are often labeled as having Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD). They have touble following directions and often wander away when people speak to them. They move restessly from one toy or activity to the next, seemingly unable to hold their concentration anywhere. They are seen as "spacey."

The Active/Agressive Child is the impulsive, frustrated, and easily angered child always on the go. The child horses around a lot, constantly roughhousing or fighting, while his parents call him a "little daredevil." He seems to crave action and movement, along with having motor control difficulties. He may just want to touch his baby sister, but because of his poor motor control, she ends up being pushed over. These children often have trouble understanding non-verbal communication, and misread people and situations. A parent's warning look may go completely unnoticed as he increased his energetic playfulness into aggressive fighting. These children usually aren't able to conceptualize and verbalize their feelings--their anger is acted upon instead of discussed.

Read the next parenting article on attachment disipline >>
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