WHAT A TEMPER! Your child, normally so sunny and the world’s sweetest kid, goes from zero to 100 and transforms into an out-of-control gremlin. What is actually going on? Usually your child radiates joy, calmness and wellbeing; but when frustrated, emotions run rampant.

Sound familiar?

Your child may have a volatile temperament. Does the textbook hit the wall if homework isn’t going well? Or does s/he have trouble concentrating and you receive notices from the teacher that your child is disruptive and doesn’t give others their turn?

Or is your child painfully shy and withdrawn?

A child who reacts strongly, is short-tempered or is withdrawn easily makes parents second-guess themselves as child raisers: “Am I doing something wrong?”
You may also wonder if your child will ever learn to control himself or overcome his fears.
I myself have occasionally been stumped in the face of the challenges of childrearing. That’s why I decided to meet with experts, classroom teachers who are also Ph.D. candidates, and an educational psychologist who conducts brain research.

I got a reassuring response: no need to panic. Extreme reactions are a normal part of a child’s development. A volatile or withdrawn child is just learning about controlling his/her feelings and temperament.

Recent studies and classroom research demonstrate that hidden behind shy, impulsive, withdrawn or short-tempered dispositions is a set of character strengths that can be drawn out.

I spent a day in special education teacher Kaisa Vuorinen’s classroom, and I saw with my own eyes how recognition of the students’ strengths works beautifully. Based on positive psychology, Vuorinen’s method of teaching her students is a fine example of how with positive reinforcement, one can get a child to blossom.

Mistakes were not in the least sought out in her classroom; instead, every student received praise for their strengths all day long.
Educational psychologists point out that every child, even calm, even-tempered children, benefit from recognition of their own character strengths.
This is because children who know their strengths are able to harness them to their advantage. They learn better and achieve positive results in life.

The good news is that it is possible for every parent to help their child to recognize and develop his/her own character strengths.

The method Kaisa Vuorinen uses can well be put into practice in your own daily interactions with your child.