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Anger Management: Understanding Your Temperament

5. Regularity
How regular are your eating, sleeping, and eliminating patterns?

need to eat at specific times

wake at the same time even if you went to bed later than usual

find shifting time zones or to daylight savings time challenging

find it difficult to understand how some people can skip meals

      easily skip meals or change mealtimes

easily adapt bed-or wake times

easily adjust to changes in time zones

find it difficult to understand why some people have to eat at specific times

1 2 3 4 5
very regular individual       irregular individual

Regularity is an interesting trait because there are lots of triggers on both ends of the continuum. If you are an irregular individual, you're flexible. You probably find travel very easy. Switching time zones doesn't faze you. You can sleep and eat, or you can wait if necessary. You realize that being woken at night doesn't exhaust you as much as others. And when a child goes two days without a bowel movement, you don't panic. You know this can be normal.

Your challenge is to work with your regular child. It can be very difficult to understand why he can't wait thirty minutes for a meal and demands to eat something now! Or why he can't delay his bedtime or nap to fit with your schedule for the day. It's the schedules and the structure they provide for your child that can frustrate you the most. Since you are most comfortable eating when you're hungry, mealtimes may be unpredictable in your home. And because you're not necessarily hungry even if you're preparing meals, you might not sit down with your child, which may lead to a kid trying desperately to get your full attention. Bedtimes may vary widely as well, resulting in struggles with a child who isn't tired or one who's overtired because his body is never quite sure when sleep time is. While you'll never feel comfortable with the schedules your regular counterparts naturally fall into, you may need to provide your child with a bit more structure. Plan times in the day when your family can connect and be predictable enough so that your child can work with you.

If you're a regular person, you're more predictable. It's likely that your routines are well established. Your child knows exactly when the family will be eating and when nap time and bedtime are. That routine can create a sense of security for him.

But it's frustrating to you when you've got that irregular child who doesn't fall easily into your pattern. You are triggered when your routines are disrupted. You need to eat at set times; otherwise, you get a headache or feel sick. It's hard to be an effective emoting coach when you're feeling faint. If your child hasn't fallen asleep by the prescribed time, you're exhausted. Hanging on for another hour can be torture. And a child who skips meals or has irregular bowel movements can make you hyperventilate. It's hard to understand how this could happen since you can't imagine skipping a meal, or having irregular bowel movements.

When we understand our own and our child's pattern, we are better able to stay out of power struggles!

Next: Page 7 >>

From the book KIDS, PARENTS, AND POWER STRUGGLES: Winning for a Lifetime by Mary Sheedy Kurcinka, published by HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. Copyright 2000 by Mary Sheedy Kurcinka. All rights reserved.

Buy the book at www.harpercollins.com.

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