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Anger Management: Understanding Your Temperament

6. Activity Level
How active are you?

find it easy to sit still for long periods of time

quiet and quiescent

can take or leave exercise

like to stroll

      find sitting for a long period of time exhausting

frequently fidget

need regular exercise

prefer to move briskly

1 2 3 4 5
low activity level       high activity level

Highly active parents have the energy to keep up with busy kids. You enjoy physical activities with your kids and stop frequently when traveling because you need the release as much as the kids do. You understand the strain of sitting quietly through a long religious service and are even relieved to step outside with the high-energy toddler.

It's inactivity that can trigger you. You have a tough time understanding the child who would rather sit than go play ball with you. You're happiest when you're busy and on the move. A "to do" list often runs through your head, especially if you're persistent, too. That's why sitting quietly with a sick child or reading three bedtime stories can be taxing for you. It's hard for you to stop and totally focus on your child. And when forced to sit for long periods of time, like on a plan or in a restaurant with slow service, your intensity rises right along with your high-energy child.

Low-activity parents tend to be more laid back. You can sit for hours reading, rocking, and holding your child. You don't have to be busy t be happy. Your child knows you're there to come and cuddle with.

Your challenge is to keep up with active kids. They can wear you out. Rest times during the day are just as important to you as to your child. You need some downtime! Trying to keep up with a busy kid and on who refuses to sit quietly in a restaurant can be frustrating. Why, you wonder, can't she sit still like me?

7. First Reaction
What's your first reaction to any new idea, place, thing, or activity?

quickly decide what you like and dislike

jump at the chance to try new things

like to quickly join in an activity

usually agree to let your child try something new

      need time to decide whether you really like something or not

prefer a more cautious approach to anything new

prefer to watch before joining in

tend to initially say no when your child wants to try something new

1 2 3 4 5
jumps in       cautious first reaction

Those who have a cautious first reaction like to think before they respond. You're not intrusive. You don't push your child into new things without thinking it through first. You can understand your child's need to watch before jumping into things and are willing to give him a second chance. Once you're comfortable you're just fine and others enjoy your company. But new situations make you uncomfortable. You can actually feel the adrenaline surging through your system when faced with something new. Initially you have to deal with your own reaction, which makes you less available to your child. You also know you've had to cope with a cautious first reaction all of your life and hate to see your child having to work through it, too. If your parents didn't understand your caution, they may not have been able to teach you the steps to take in order for you to feel comfortable entering new situations. Now you're trying to teach your child, and you're not quite sure how. Or you might be tempted to send a strong message – "DON'T be this way!" – and push, even though you know it's not what your child needs. And because you are cautious, when your child asks you if she can do something, it's likely that your first answer will be no!

If you can appreciate your caution and allow yourself and your child to move slowly into new situations, you'll have more energy available for your child. And a simple response, like "Let me think about that," can prevent you from unwittingly falling into struggles with the kid who doesn't take no for an answer.

Bold individuals feel comfortable exploring and discovering because they do not experience strong physiological reactions in new situations. When John Glenn first blasted into space, his pulse rate rose only to 110 beats per minute, in contrast to the 170 of a colleague on an earlier flight. Unlike their more cautious counterparts, people who enjoy jumping into things don't get that rush of hormones that tells them to watch out. As a result, living with them is often an adventure. They like to expose their children to new experiences and opportunities.

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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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