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- Ms. Ilian

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

The Melancholic Child

We've all seen them: often pale, usually thin, serious in attitude. They can give the impression of carrying the weight of the world on their shoulders. These are the melancholic children. They tend to be responsible and deeply caring. Because of this they can easily become overwhelmed. Their thoughts are deep, their memory strong, and so we trust them, sometimes even rely on them. But in this we must be careful!

Anything you entrust to a melancholic child will be taken up with dedication and care. This child will follow your rules, and take steps to ensure that others follow them as well. He or she is deeply concerned with justice and fairness, and can become quite distraught if it appears that laws and standards are not being  administered equally. At the same time, the melancholic child will be ready to take on extra burdens beyond those born by others, which he or she will carry stoically as long as that service is recognized and appreciated. If it is not acknowledged, however, the melancholic child will point out, through gesture, word or deed, the unfairness of his or her situation.

Melancholic children tend to be extremely sensitive. They are easily hurt, both inwardly and outwardly. But they are also quick to empathize with others, recognizing their suffering, and coming to their aid if possible. They go through more band-aids and ice packs than any other children, only partly because they need them themselves. Indeed, many more are applied to the injuries of others.

The challenge of the melancholic child to the parent or teacher is to bring lightness to his or her experiences, and not to inadvertently overburden this child with responsibilities. Laughter is an excellent medicine for all children, but for the melancholic child it is essential. Nor does it hurt to include sweets in his or her diet. The injuries of body and soul must be taken seriously, but not too much so. There is much that can be done for a melancholic child by applying salves and teas, while turning his or her attention away from him or herself and towards others whom he or she can help in some way. Thus, if your child has fallen and bruised her knee, she can well be helped by a sympathetic word, and careful tending of the wound, followed by a joint effort to remove the root she tripped on, or, failing that, to involve her in creating a warning sign so others will not trip also.

Melancholic children are children of the earth. They love to tend to living things, and can be kept quite happy nurturing a garden plot, or caring for a pet. They love order, and you will have less trouble with keeping their rooms and other spaces clean and organized than with getting them to allow for spontaneity and controlled creative chaos. When melancholic children misbehave, it can be helpful to examine whether they might not be reacting to a perceived injustice, or to a disruption of the accepted order of things. By trying to understand what is upsetting these children, their behavior can often be understood and more easily corrected.

It is not difficult to find tasks appropriate for the melancholic child. In fact, one must take care not to give him or her too many responsibilities, and to allow rules to have some flexibility so he or she can live comfortably within the sphere of your expectations. The very young child can be in charge of keeping the shoes neat and tidy, standing like good friends with their toes to the wall. The slightly older child can be given the task of watering the thirsty plants or feeding the family cat or dog. Follow the principle of giving your melancholic child jobs that are nurturing, clearly valuable and important, and endowed with the qualities of responsibility and trust. If these elements are present in the tasks you assign, your child will rise to meet your expectation.

And so, in dealing with your melancholic child remember: be understanding and sympathetic while helping him or her to look outward towards others; give meaningful responsibilities and trust; bring light and sweetness to your child in whatever way you can and as often as you can.