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- Ms. Ilian

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

The Phlegmatic Child

That sweet child with the round, soft face, warm, moist, gently padded physique who sits fully absorbed in some quiet activity is very possibly phlegmatic. Does she love comfort and routine? Does she dislike surprises and changes? Does she revel in gustatory experiences and welcome rest periods? This child is almost certainly Phlegmatic!

Phlegmatic children have an especially strong metabolic system. They digest everything, from food to knowledge. They thrive on order, and are most comfortable in peaceful environments. These children are not apt to complain. They will take most things in stride, dealing with them in a systematic, orderly way. However, if roused, they can be like a volcano that, after years or decades of slowly building subterranean pressure, blows its top, scattering fire and debris around. Such an event often comes as a complete surprise to everyone, even the closest family and friends, and should be taken very seriously.

Comfort is the byword of the phlegmatic child. His clothes will often be soft and loose, and he would just as soon wear the same outfit every day - sometimes even to bed. After all, changing clothes takes more effort than it is usually worth. He will choose board games over sports, and usually loves to read or think about things. Everything to do with food appeals to the phlegmatic child, from cooking to eating. This child also enjoys sleeping, and welcomes nap periods.

Working with phlegmatic children can be both gratifying and frustrating. They thrive in an orderly environment, and will happily follow the daily routines. However, if you make a change, they may resist, especially if they are not given sufficient advance notice. Once occupied, they will continue with a project for quite a long time; but transitions are challenging, and may need a lengthy preparation. Once you know this, you can work with it effectively through a series of timed warnings alerting plegmatic children of the upcoming change or transition:

"Start looking for a stopping place. Dinner will be ready in 15 minutes."

"10 minute warning - dinner is almost ready."

"5 more minutes until dinner. Stop what you're doing and wash your hands."

"Dinner time!"

The other children may show up at once and hang about (you may take this opportunity to set them to work helping to put the dinner on the table), or ignore you until the final call. Your phlegmatic children will respond in a small way to each separate invitation, and will appreciate being helped through the transition from their previous activity to the new one. It is all a matter of overcoming inertia - first ending the current activity, then beginning the next. You may find this maddening at times, but to your phlegmatic children, this is just a matter of systematically building and maintaining routine, and thereby establishing order and comfort.On the other hand, if you can relax into your phlegmatic child's pace, you may well come to enjoy the calm that is created when one is fully engaged in a single task, rather than attempting to juggle several different activities. Except for the difficulties of overcoming inertia, most parents and teachers find their phlegmatic children easy going and easy to work with.

One of the greatest challenges facing the parents of phlegmatic children is finding ways to keep them active. One area in which you may well find success is in water sports. The phlegmatic child's element is water. Many phlegmatic children will take like fish to anything to do with water. A bath will calm them, a swimming pool will inspire them. They are attracted to rivers, lakes and oceans. Surfing and sailing are both sports that phlegmatic children are highly likely to be interested and successful in. They may even develop an active interest in marine life, or oceanic and atmospheric science.

And so we come to some rules of thumb regarding working with your phlegmatic child:

1. establish routines, and stick to them as much as possible.
2. Allow lots of time for changes in activities and schedule, and give several periodic alerts to help your child negotiate the transitions.
3. Remember, food is a great motivator! Involve your child in meal preparation. make your child's day special by offering a favorite food for a treat or reward; or have your child earn a favorite food by performing special deeds (or avoiding undesirable ones).
4. Comfort is the basis for happiness. Making sure your phlegmatic child is comfortable will help you avoid or eliminate challenging situations and  behaviors.
5. Water is your child's natural element. You can capitalize on this by giving him chores involving water, such as watering plants, or washing dishes by hand. Include a relaxing bath, perhaps with a lavender or pine scented bath oil, in your child's bed-time routine.

1 comment:

  1. My daughter Camille is "Phlegmatic" and reading this, I had to laugh as it is a word-for-word description of how she is! She loves water so much, we often say she would have been very happy as a "mermaid"!