With almost 50 million children headed back to school, the start of another school year can be anxiety ridden for both adults and children. Once the backpacks are bought and school supplies packed (along with new shoes, clothes and more), the reality of a new teacher, a new classroom and new peers sets in. As parents we worry about how our children will fit in and how we will know when something is amiss.
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Taking notes about your child’s transition to the classroom may help to identify the early warning signs or nonverbal cues that your child may not be happy in school. Older systems of medicine, including Chinese and Ayurvedic medicine, often categorized children. This helped in understanding that certain types of children had consistent issues.
Here is my guide to the five types of children that I most commonly meet in my practice.
Full of energy or fire in Chinese medicine, you cannot miss a leader. They charge into a room, own their space and are often admired by their peers. They are usually full of joy and charismatic, but out of balance, anxious and moody. Mood changes, irritability or issues focusing are signs that your leader is not comfortable in the current school setting and may be your signal to investigate. Finding opportunities to lead outside of school is also important, giving you a chance to observe your child’s differences in demeanor in a variety of settings.
Tip- the lack of joy is a sign your leader child is not happy.
Do you have a child that loves to discover or explore? Hunters are curious and investigative. Discovery is their motivator, but when not in balance, can get angry and complain about headaches or muscle pain. Increasing anger or behavioral problems are your clues that your child is having issues at school. Take some time to understand what these issues may be and talk to your child’s teacher.
Tip- Increasing anger and complaints of headaches are unhappy hunter kids.
Dreamy and introspective, the artist thinks outside the box and thrives on imagination. Your future writer, artist or actor is susceptible to fear. When uncomfortable, can complain of lower body aches and pain. Bedwetting may be more common in younger children who are budding artists. Many of these children have trouble with structure and being on time! Make sure your artist child’s needs are met by providing outlets for their imaginations and choosing a school that allows some flexibility in the daily structure.
Tip- The artist needs time for expression and too much structure may be counterproductive.
Future diplomats, the peacekeeper is the negotiator and the child concerned about others. Caring, compassionate and kind, the peacekeeper is also the “worrier” and the child to complain the most about stomachaches or digestive issues. The peacekeeper wants to be accepted and out of element will often overeat. Finding a compassionate classroom and navigating peer dynamics may be the biggest challenge for parents of peacekeepers.
Tip- Understand your child’s classroom and peer group. These will be critical in determining school success.
Routine and predictable, the engineer likes structure and predictability. Detail oriented, the engineer child will form a plan and then expect you to stick to it. These children seem to suffer from more colds, asthma or upper respiratory symptoms, according to the Chinese medical model. If you notice your engineer child more tearful or dreading school, consider discussing the school routine with your child’s teacher and help your child manage and prepare for changes in routine.
Tip- Help your child anticipate changes in routine.