My sister who is nine years older than I am has very different childhood memories than I do and I believe it is because her temperament is quite different than mine. She is a Choleric/Phlegmatic and I am a Melancholy/Phlegmatic.
One time when she was visiting us we stayed up talking on the couch until the middle of the night. I had a major revelation that night. I was talking about how our parents, mostly my dad, were to blame for me not liking or loving myself. I asked her about her experience. She said and I quote, "It would have never occurred to me to NOT like myself". For the first time I actually felt in control of my own feelings. I no longer had to blame my parents and could take responsibility for how I felt. Just seeing my parents have such an opposite effect on my sister forced me to realize that it is MY feelings and no matter what triggers them they are MY feelings.
As you can see their behavior had a profound effect on me in my formative years. Being a child with both my primary and secondary temperaments being introverted gave me needs that were not obvious. When a child's. predominant temperament is melancholy they tend to think a lot about the past, themselves, and they have a good memory concerning things that happened to them. They tend to analyze, brood and have a strong attention for detail. Many times they are bothered by the idea of imperfection. They can be rather inflexible, and when things do not happen according to the pictures or thoughts they have laid out in their mind, they can become extremely upset or angry. They have an innate need for order and systems.
The way to work with a melancholy is to listen carefully to the melancholy child’s deep and brooding thoughts and to tell them stories about others who have suffered or times of your own suffering in order to connect. They rely heavily on relating to others in order to feel "right". .Parents have to be careful to listen, but not be a captive stage for hours on end by long tales of the woe of the melancholy child. This can be a tricky balance! The melancholy child should not set the tone for the home; rather parents should set the tone in the house. In the home environment where you are with your children 24/7, it is important to demonstrate to the melancholy child how you protect your own emotional boundaries because this is an important aspect of modeling emotional health for this temperament type. You can carefully listen to your child and then say that you have certainly heard them, and that you will carry their thoughts with you whilst you go do the dishes or brush the dog. You can help engage these children in real work, and get them physically moving instead of wallowing in their own negativity. I find melancholy children often need more exercise and sometimes even more opportunities to be socially drawn out than they may be prone to want to do themselves. Melancholy children are often happiest being creative and reading, which is wonderful, but physical movement and community is very important for these children.
So with just this much information you can clearly see that melancholy children need to be sincerely listened to and also drawn out of themselves. They need one on one involvement from parents and the parent needs to be fully engaged with that child. No half-hearted effort while vacuuming or reading the newspaper.
Allow me to share with you what my dad did when I talked to him. I was sitting on the couch and he was in HIS chair facing the TV and watching it as he was usually doing. I wanted to tell him something that either happened at school or along that line. I mustered up the courage to tell him and he didn't respond. I said it again and he didn't respond. I said it a third time and he looked over at me with an uninterested facial expression and said to me, "Did you say something?" and it crushed me. He clearly had issues I realized as I got older. I don't remember my parents ever talking to me like I was a person. I had a lot going on inside of me and I needed them to hear me sometimes and talk to me as if I was important.
I say this not to incite pity but to teach you to not make the same mistakes. It took me years and years to finally get to the place that I was confident but sadly many melancholy children never do get there when not nurtured. Please slow down with your kids and listen to each one of them as an individual and as a person with high value.
There are quite a few families with many kids in my life. I observe them a lot! I am sure they don't all know I do and it doesn't really matter. I do it for the sake of writing about it and hopefully inspiring parents to realize how important each child's temperament is and how big of a difference it makes in their lives to learn it and understand it. It is also essential that parents know and understand their own temperament. I have watched the results of one size fits all discipline and also of being disrespectful to children. That ALWAYS has severe consequences. If you don't model respect then nothing you do will give them the character you hope they grow up to have, short of learning it all after they leave your home.
I am inspired by my niece (my sister's daughter-in-law). She and her husband have seven kids and I am amazed at this family. I have witnessed on many occasions the effect of their parenting on these kids. I know it can get tiring and wear a parent down, but the consistency and parental unity stays firm and means a lot. Putting God first, each other second and the kids third makes for the proper biblical order and it is working. If I hadn't seen the discipline take place before my very eyes I would not have believed it. You read about it in books but seldom see it played out so well in real life.
Read about all the temperament's on my site and you will be able to see a pattern forming. The choleric child will try your patience the most. (Just so ya know - lol)