My kids are two entirely different people. Of course. But somehow, I’m still surprised and amused when I notice the different ways they approach the world.
Benjamin, who is nearly 4 (although I have no idea how that is possibly true) handles most of his frustrations by either gnashing his teeth and throwing things or bursting in to tears (pretty predictable for a 3 year old . . . and occasionally for me). I’ve worked a lot, over the years, on more constructive methods of conflict resolution, whether it’s talking about a problem (asking for a toy, offering a trade, taking turns), asking an adult for help (particularly when he comes across an overly difficult physical task) or calmly assessing the situation and formulating a solution (once in a blue moon that last one actually happens . . . and it’s pretty cool when it does).
Liam, on the other hand, deals with a problem very directly — with overwhelming force, acceptance or by immediately asking for help. The times when he gets frustrated to the point of crying are almost 0 (and only then when he’s exhausted) and he never grits his teeth, growls and stomps around. He either forces the solution, gives up and moves on (happily) or sits where he is, calling, “Help, help!”
Both approaches have their merits. Although Benjamin ends up more regularly frustrated, I admire his persistence. On the other hand, there is something very functional about Liam’s approach — he’s going to MAKE it happen, accept things as they are, or call in the cavalry — all choices which keep him pretty peaceful.
I love my boys, and I love how much they ARE who they are. Everything seems to get to Benjamin — but that includes the good and the bad. I think he feels the wonderful, amazing, loving, magical parts of life every bit as strongly as he feels the frustrating and overwhelming things. Liam seems more independent and resilient . . . except when he needs, “Help, help!” In either case, my boys impress me. And I’m happy to help, help them both, with whatever they need.