01 Dec No More Blind Spots: Help Your Child Understand Their Own Constitution
I can’t remember who told me this but it has stuck with me for years:
We are just as different on the inside as on the outside.
And I can verify this because I actually did human dissection in grad school (Ewww!! I know.) Human bodies are definitely different on the inside.
It’s true that we all have basically the same parts — heart, lungs, skin, brain, bones, etc. However, the coordination and activity of these organs and tissues are unique to every individual.
A mistake I see many moms make is treating their kid’s body like their own (or a sibling’s). Mom always runs hot, so she says, “You don’t need a jacket,” while her kid shivers in the air conditioning. Parents are night owls so they let their child stay up late and get frustrated the next day when their toddler throws a tantrum from lack of sleep. Or your firstborn is naturally very coordinated, so kid number 2 is enrolled in multiple sports — despite hating them.
We all have blind spots as parents. My own son dislikes cheese. For longer than I would like to admit, I kept trying to give my kid cheese. Many parents use cheese as the holy grail of simple protein. I finally accepted that I couldn’t force feed him organic string cheese just because it was convenient for me. To this day he does not eat cheese. (I love eating it as a quick protein snack, by the way.)
It’s our job to help our children notice and understand their own constitutions. I use “constitution” to mean a body’s natural expression — including all physical and psychological characteristics.
Knowing yourself is the beginning of all wisdom.
You have a huge role to play here. As you notice consistencies in their constitution, begin to mention them so you educate your child about their body. If they’re older, you can ask questions so they can reflect on what works for their constitution.
Let’s get our kids connected to themselves!
Here are 4 main aspects of the human constitution and some questions to get you started:
What time do your kids wake up on their own?
What time do they go to sleep?
Do they get a second wind at night?
Do they like lots of covers or just a cotton sheet?
Does your toddler still need 2 naps a day?
Does your teen actually do best if she is in bed by 9?
Does activity ramp your kid up before bed or wear them out?
2. Body/Psyche Type
Do their joints seem taut and tight or loose and flexible?
Are they lean or beefy?
Do they have incredible endurance or quick spurts of activity?
Are they quick-thinkers or ruminators?
Do they express big emotional reactions or maintain an even keel?
Are they sensitive to rough fabrics?
3. Energy Cycles and Activity Levels
When does your teen focus the best — right after school, after dinner or after a power snack?
If they don’t get outside or exercise, how is your child’s mood?
Does your child do better with small spurts of activity and get overwhelmed by huge outings?
In which season does your child seem most energetic and happiest?
Do they become energized or exhausted by play dates?
Do they naturally seek out alone time to recharge?
4. Foods and Cravings
Does food energize your kid or slow them down?
Does your child graze all day long? Or can they go for hours without eating and devour a huge dinner?
Do they crave hot herbal teas or glasses of milk?
Does your child scratch after eating strawberries?
Do they love ice or room temperature water?
In developing your awareness of your kid’s (and maybe your own?) constitution, you need to be present to what serves them instead of your ideas or fantasies of what it is to be a good mom.
Caution: As you consider these questions, avoid the limitations of labeling your child, e.g., “introvert,” “athlete,” “night owl,” etc. Think more about how they function than about what label to apply. For example, reflect back to them how well they do with time alone rather than calling them an introvert or extrovert. Focus on what activities and things they can do that work for them rather than creating a diagnosis with a name.
Reflecting to your child their own constitution creates awareness.
Though their inside differences may be harder to pinpoint, just because all your kids share the same freckles doesn’t mean they need the same amount of sleep. And your kid might look like your mini-me, but their personality and physical needs will puzzle you and keep you on your toes.
Because isn’t that what kids are for? To shake things up, get us off autopilot and help us live in the present?
Recognizing and reflecting your child’s composition helps them gain self-knowledge. They will be connected to themselves as they grow, and able to make great decisions for themselves. This understanding evolves over a lifetime, and beginning when they are young gives their awareness time to develop and sink in.
Action Step: Today, notice one thing about your child’s constitution and reflect it back to them in a gentle and non- judgmental way; or simply take note if they are a babe in arms.
I have a present for you!
Watch your email box for a very special series of videos just for moms and dads. You can grab a cup of tea and join me as I share tips for creating a culture of wellness in your home during this busy holiday season and great holistic gift ideas for kids!
Want to know my story? Check out the About section to learn more about the education and life experiences that inspired me to start a health revolution.