Thursday, January 31, 2008

Personality and Temperament - Part 2

To read Part 1

To me, human relations are one of the most complicated thing in the world! Its like, you can't live with them, you can't live without them. We are not meant to live as hermits or an island. All of us have parents, parent-in-law, family, colleague and etc. So, we cannot totally escape from human relations. We need to deal with it as much as we possibly can. We have to teach our children to be able to live peacefully with others. Does it come naturally? For some yes, and others no.

Let me take the example of Joel, my 11 years old son. He is by nature an introvert. Through my observations, he is partly Melancholic and partly Phlegmatic. It has been very difficult for him to express his emotions since he was young. Whenever we scold him, he immediately shuts down. So, it causes a lot of frustration for him and us. I wasn't sure how to draw him out of his 'shell'.

According to the experts, you have to give them a safe environment. A place where they feel free to express themselves and not be criticized, rejected or judged. I try to put myself in his place. I guess, adults feel the same way too. Not many will be able to open up in a critical environment. With his temperament, it's doubly difficult.

I took many hours, days and months mentoring him. As a homeschooler, I was with him 24/7 and 365 days. So, I could see irregularity in his behaviour. I tried to balance between reprimanding and breaking his spirit. It was difficult. I prayed.

Over the years, I have seen Joel coming out of his 'shell'. He is more vocal, braver, confident, funnier, happier, less selfish, calmer, grateful, more self-controlled and less angry. By nature he has weaknesses and through nurture, he has managed to overcome some of his temperaments. Not totally rid of his weaknesses but has managed to learn to live with it and even have some victories. Some people are by nature, very nice. Some have to try very hard.

I can by nature easily 'let go' and forgive, unless I go through a very bad situation, then its a little more difficult. Whilst Joel is the opposite. So, that was my first lesson for him. Forgiveness. It takes a lot of effort for him to forgive, a very conscious effort.

How I mentored him since the age of 8 years old:
  • Explain to him the meaning of forgiveness and why he needs to forgive
  • Explain the consequences of unforgiveness e.g. sickness, bitterness, unhappiness, bad relationships with family members, colleagues and God.
  • Everytime he experiences a squabble (usually with his brother), remind him to forgive. Allow him to feel the emotion rather than denying it but explain that eventually he will have to forgive.
  • If he still hasn't forgiven, its obvious because he usually still seem angry in the way he communicates with his brother.
  • Do not judge him but love him despite his weaknesses
  • Pray for him
  • Ask him to pray and ask God for help.
According to him, he is now an Expert Forgiver (if there is such a word). But I have seen his improvement. So, if your children have struggles in various areas, you can help them. The younger, the better. I have seen many adults having difficulty in unforgiveness, to a stage whereby they have sicknesses the doctors are unable to diagnose. Health is not only in the food they eat, but their emotional health as well.

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