Today, I had a great example of the Powerful Child at work, actually play, but even their play can feel more like work and lack a little fun. When I know how my Powerful/Playful Child, Jayden, approaches his projects, and anticipate what works well for him, the process can be a lot more enjoyable for both of us! I know I usually have to hang on for the ride, as no project will be as easy as it sounds! Here’s how it unfolded. For those of you with a powerful/playful combination child this may sound familiar.
The day started with his plan to make a stocking for his new stuffed animal. He has been told more than once, by more than a couple of his siblings, that this stuffed animal is not real. He insists he is! No changing his mind. So, with his plan carefully laid out to me, and very clear in his own mind, he attempted to create this stocking. He insisted that he was going to paint a stocking with red paint and then cut out a rectangle that is white to put his name on. I asked if he’d rather have red construction paper, but no, he insisted he must paint it.
So we drew the stocking shape, and he cut it out. He proceeded to paint the stocking but was immediately angry when the paint was not dark enough. He threw his head down in frustration, as intensity erupted. He wanted to crumple up the paper and throw it away. “Wait a minute!” I said. Let me show you the difference. If you use water colors, it will look like this.” I showed him the color and explained that water color is not a bright color. I then showed him the construction paper and explained that it was darker in color. “Which of these is more like you imagined?” In this moment, he was gaining control and the project was once again on track. He stood up straight and then stated, “Well definitely the construction paper!”
It seemed to me that we could have saved ourselves a lot of emotion if he had just listened to my suggestion in the beginning. But you see, Powerful children need to arrive at the decision on their own. They learn by experience. They want to test and try things and then feel good about their decision. I could have actually predicted the situation would unfold as it did. How? Because it is a common occurrence. But I have learned that seeing the situation through allows him to try and learn different ways to problem solve. In this way, he helps make decisions along the way and then feels better about the outcome.
I also hope that after getting practice in problem solving that he will learn to think things through, figure out his options, and save himself from the meltdowns and emotional roller coaster.
I point out that he is a Powerful/Playful Child for a couple reasons. First, it introduces the combinations of personalities. Second of all, it helps explain how a Powerful Child would even stick with an art project! The playful part of him wanted to create. And I had to laugh, because he was decorating the stocking and asked, “Do you know what I’m doing? I’m making it stylish!” Those are the touches of a Playful Child!