Different kids have different needs. I see it very prevalently in my two children. Everything about the girls has been unique, but it has given me a great perspective on the different types of children. More importantly, cluing into their actions helps me adapt to their needs.
I first learned about the four types of children from the book Secrets of the Baby Whisperer by Tracy Hogg. In it, she stated that children as young as birth can demonstrate how they fall into each of the categories through their actions. By about three months, you should be able to tell if you have an Angel, Textbook, Spirited, or Touchy Baby. For me, understanding that Hannah was a Spirited baby opened the doors to connecting with her and building a bridge between her needs as a baby and my abilities as a Mom. Spirited babies, while charismatic, have an acute way of announcing and acting out on each need throughout the day. I can’t imagine having gone through my first year of motherhood without her as my coach. She served as such a strong motivator, that when my Angel baby arrived 14 months later, I jumped at the opportunity to do everything right for her.
I’m not kidding when I tell you that Audrey rarely cries. She sails through each day while I wear her and allows me to continue to focus my attention and energy on Hannah. Each girl, from the womb, has shown me her different needs. Hannah needs space, independence, and challenges because she is going to take over the world. I say that as a joke, but I see so many traits in her that I’ve watched unfold in movies with strong female heroines that I really think it’s likely. Just like her Dad, she has an acute awareness of the world that is both her greatest strength and the biggest challenge of her life.
The way I mother Hannah is to follow her lead. I teach her skills and break them down so that she can take over. Her motivation is always to help and I take advantage of that. My daily tasks take longer this way, but it’s important to me to fill our time with helping her understand the world. The second component to this is starting at a young age with instructions. She may be strong willed, but she loves to perform. Simple games like reaching our hands to the sky or shaking an egg near different body parts are helping her learn to listen and follow along. Some day she will be a leader, but she won’t get there without first mastering these skills.
On the other hand, the way I mother Audrey is simple. We follow an easy rotation of eat, play, sleep throughout the day. Generally, she wakes up bright eyed and then gets even happier after I feed her. She loves to play on the floor and watch her sister. I can devote time to her and Hannah by asking Hannah to follow along with a diaper change. We also play with Hannah’s toys. Audrey can perch on her belly to reach for objects or sit in my lap. If you’re wondering how I occupy Hannah while I feed Audrey, at home I read books with her on the couch. When we’re out, I nurse Audrey in the carrier so that I can chase after Hannah.
The reason I say that there’s no one way to be a Mom is because there’s no one way to be a kid either. However, children are built with unique ways of telling us their needs. Plus, they have such a cute physique that we can’t help but want to take care of them. All children can be good children, just like at heart, all Moms are good Moms. When we take the time to understand and listen to a child, we find out exactly the type of Mom s(he) needs.