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Emotional Personality Child

by Luz


I have a 7 year old boy who was adopted (something not as common in my country).

He is a very sensitive and protective kid that does not follow rules. I have tried holistic medicine, therapies and he has been in two preschool and elementary school with the same diagnosis: a very cooperative and social kid but does not follow rules.

He compromises to change but he comes back to the same behavioral pattern.

How can I deal with a non rule follower? I have tried everything and I am very open to holistic alternatives and pro creative education.



Comments for Emotional Personality Child

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Spirited, Sensitive Child - Part One
by: Annie Desantis

Hi Luz,

My apologies for taking a while to reply, I have been in UK for the birth of my second Granddaughter - very exciting!

Your question is an interesting one. Firstly, not conforming to rules, can actually be a sign of a very innovative and entrepreneurial spirit! Of course as a parent it makes life difficult, but I would suggest you focus on his strengths and help him to have strategies to deal with conforming.

Many rules are for safety, ie don't run out on the road - but many rules are simply to make life more manageable for adults! Schools have a very high ratio of children per adult, and teachers simply do not have enough time to give every child the amount of time they may need to transition from one activity to another. So there are rules about everything, time, noise, talking, what activity you are allowed to do, where you have to be, how to sit etc.

Children who are independent, creative and spirited, often don't see any logical reason behind many rules. In fact the reverse, they experience these rules as something that squashes their spirit, that interrupts the flow of their creative juices, that stop life being fun.

Kids need a good enough reason to be willing to conform, and toe the line with rules. Some kids simply can't compromise their personality to such an extent, and are really not suited to a formal school environment. There are hundreds of examples of highly successful adults who performed miserably in school.

You didn't mention if you also had issues at home with his behavior, or if it is predominantly in structured environments. If it is possible, I would think seriously about home schooling this child.

In a home schooling environment, you have much more flexibility about how you structure his learning - and in his case I would lean far more towards Unschooling, than some of the more formal homeschooling curriculum.

Unschooling, is basically following the child's energy in the things they are excited about learning. You can offer all sorts of activities, but have the flexibility to extend it into a different direction following his mind.

Kids will bounce around from all sorts of things, they really are little sponges keen to soak up knowledge and experiences.

For example, at breakfast my Granddaughter noticed the light reflecting through a glass of water. So we explored where it was coming from, what stopped it, what happened when we moved it, did the amount of water change anything, would it work through plastic, how could we reflect it onto another surface - then she said the sparkles looked like stars, so we started talking about stars and suns, and looked on the internet for pictures - which lead into rockets and satellites . . . .

You get the idea - if you run with the natural curiosity and interest a child has, you will cover a lot of ground, and it is easy to build in more structured things such as writing and maths as a part of exploring about rockets.

Part Two Follows:

Spirited, Sensitive Child - Part Two
by: Annie Desantis

Part Two:

There are some pages on our site about Homeschooling & Unschooling you may find helpful:



If homeschooling is simply not an option for you, then your challenge is to help him cope in a school environment. Help him to be aware of what the consequences are of not following rules, and to develop strategies to help him a)conform or b) deal with the consequences of not conforming.

I would avoid being the heavy parent trying to reinforce school discipline. There is nothing wrong with him, he is not being naughty, he is simply expressing his natural exuberant personality, or reacting when he is unhappy.

He may need strategies to cope better, for example, transition times are often the cause of many meltdowns with kids who don't conform. You may be able to work with the school to use similar tactics with him.

Start by choosing something that you know is a recurring issue. I'll use an example of another little boy, who wouldn't come and sit on the mat at the beginning of class when the teacher wants everyone to sit quietly. He would be playing with Lego bricks and would throw a tantrum when told off for not packing up and sitting on the mat.

Firstly, the child needs to recognize there is an issue. He couldn't see why he had to sit on the mat, but did realize he was supposed to do what the teacher said. He didn't like being told off, and he did want the teacher to think well of him. He got very distressed at having to destroy something he had been working so hard at, so this was something we could use to negotiate with.

We back tracked to before the actual telling off by the teacher and his subsequent tantrum - he needed to be aware of having a choice about his behavior before he had a meltdown. He was a child who needed plenty of time to adjust to transitioning between activities, so we arranged that the teacher would come over to him 5 minutes before the bell rang to let him know he needed to start winding up his building.

We also negotiated with the teacher to put his creation to one side instead of having to pack it away. If he tidied up the rest of the bricks when told, he could place his creation on her desk to get back to the next morning. One minute before the bell rang, she would remind him that his time was almost up, and for him to bring her his creation, then he would go back and tidy up the bricks.

Part Three Follows . . . .

Spirited, Sensitive Child - Part Three
by: Annie Desantis

Part Three:

This worked well to head off the tantrum in this case, and he mostly was sitting on the mat with the other children at the start of the day. But it did require the teacher to participate in the strategy. Some teachers simply don't have the time, or they expect all the children to conform in the same way to rules. It is much easier to build on strategies if the child has help and support. Eventually they will be able to carry over those kind of strategies into other situations, and so get more control as they get older.

Many sensitive or spirited children often need to have an overview of how the day will go, so there are no surprise interruptions. You can help draw up a chart for him so he has a visual reminder of how the day will go. To help counter all the rules, make sure he has some unstructured time at home that he can be the boss of!

If he has trouble transitioning to a new activity or being ready to start something, he may be able to use a timer, or stop watch to give him some reminders that it is nearly time to start getting ready - or 5 minutes left before settling down. Sometimes these kind of kids need a soothing process before being able to move on - some deep breaths or stretches, sitting quietly and having a back rub, reading a story. See if you can develop things with him that he can do himself to calm him down and switch focus.

You also mentioned he was adopted, and I don't know the circumstances, but he may have some issues to work through around that. If you can, help him to build a story around his birth parents so he can feel OK about having a part of him that is connected to someone else.

I hope this has given you some ideas to try. This child may need a more creative approach to helping him flourish, but don't let him start to think he is the problem. Rather help him creatively deal with a world that wants to pressure him into conforming, and help him to retain his sensitive spirit.

He is a lucky boy to have such a wonderful Mother in you, just enjoy every moment,

Wishing you JOY,
Annie D

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