Fast and Slow
As a ballet teacher and a parent, I have observed that kids have two speeds: fast and slow. Most children specialize in one.
When my ballet students practice Fairy Runs in class, I remind them that when we run like fairies, we must move our feet quickly and quietly. Some children naturally move quickly. Some naturally move quietly. Few are able to combine the two without a good bit of practice.
As parents, the natural speed of our children can cause us a lot of frustration. We often wish that our Cheetah Child would slow down for just a few minutes to give us a break! We go crazy waiting for the Snails in the family to finish what seems to us to be a simple task.
One of our deepest desires is to enjoy our kids and to love them for who they are, but this can be so difficult. Recognizing if your child is a Cheetah or a Snail can be a helpful step in being able to appreciate them as an individual and in coaching them as they grow.
Quick children go hard and fast until they crash. They have the gift of speed and energy. Quick Children are often unaware of their own intensity, personal space, feelings of others, and their need for rest. They accidentally run into other children at the park. It seems as if they never listen to directions and miss out on details.
Careful children focus on the details. They may have a deep gift for noticing other people. Quite often they listen well to instruction and want to please their teacher or parent. These children annoy their parents when they take fifteen minutes to put on one shoe. Snails melt down when they don’t have time to finish their art project before supper. They seem to live in a timeless world.
Tips for Nurturing the Cheetah
- Affirm their gifts of enthusiasm, energy and creativity.
- Learn to anticipate when they will crash and leave the party before there is a meltdown.
- Create a routine that includes quiet time. Choose a consistent phrase to use for quiet time such as alone time or rest time. Used regularly, this phrase will help your child recognize their need for rest and will help them express this need.
- Plan for physical activity (preferably out of doors) each day. This will help to burn off some of that extra energy and help them sleep better at night.
- Find small ways to give yourself a break from your ever-energetic child. Family rest time, even after your child has outgrown naps, can be a gift to all.
Tips for Nurturing the Snail
- Affirm their gifts of carefulness, kindness, and creativity.
- Create order and simplicity in their environment. Place a shoe bin by the front door so you won’t have to spend extra time searching for their shoes AND waiting for them to put on their shoes.
- Announce transitions ahead of time. Give them 5, 10 and 15-minute warnings before leaving the house or changing activities.
- Employ external structures to help your child gain momentum. Structured environments such as school, sports, or ballet class (my favorite!) can help push them forward.
- Creating structure for your kids can be exhausting. Find one thing that replenishes your soul and build it into your weekly routine. This is important; if you don’t fill your tank, you won’t have anything left to give!