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  • Your Toddler's Personality: Is She a Dandelion or an Orchid?

    "Genes alone do not make a child an orchid or a dandelion."
    by Lei Dimarucut-Sison .
Your Toddler's Personality: Is She a Dandelion or an Orchid?
  • A mom with two or more kids will eventually discover that she doesn't parent her children the same way because kids will have different personalities and dispositions. To illustrate, W. Thomas Boyce, a professor of pediatrics and psychiatry, uses flowers in his analogy of kids in his book The Orchid and the Dandelion: Why Some Children Struggle and How All Can Thrive.

    Boyce believes that kids lean towards one of two tendencies: they can be resilient like dandelions or sensitive like orchids. He also acknowledges that while these two personalities fall on opposite ends, there might be overlaps between the two. 

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    Dandelion flowers are known to bloom in the most unlikely places and thrive under any circumstance. Kids whom Boyce refer to as dandelions "show a remarkable capacity for thriving in almost every environmental circumstance they encounter."

    Orchids, on the other hand, require a lot of tending and nurturing to grow and its care can be quite challenging. Similarly, orchid children are "sensitive to their environments, especially vulnerable under conditions of adversity but unusually vital, creative and successful within supportive environments." 


    How orchids and dandelions are created

    As with many earlier studies, Boyce's study believes that both nature and nurture play a part in shaping children to be who they are. 

    "Genes alone do not make a child an orchid or a dandelion," he says. "The genetic characteristics of children create their predispositions, but do not necessarily determine their outcomes."

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    A study led by Boyce observed 34,000 children from the time they were born to see the relationship between their APGAR scores and their performance in school as reported by their teachers. 

    APGAR, which stands for Appearance, Pulse rate, Grimace, Activity, and Respiration, is a test done on newborns to determine how well the baby is doing outside of his mother's womb. Babies who get a score lower than 7 may require medical help or might need to be observed.  

    In the study, the researchers found that "APGAR scores were predictive of teacher-reported developmental vulnerability at age 5 for a variety of developmental dimensions." What it means: a newborn baby's APGAR scores could give a clue of how a child will fare later in life — and whether he will turn out to be an orchid or a dandelion. 

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    How parents can help orchids

    Given the adaptive nature of dandelions, it's probably safe to say that they need less management from their parents than do orchids. Boyce suggests the following to help parents understand their orchid children:

    • Orchids thrive in routine. They may have a hard time adapting to new things because the familiar is what comforts them. 
    • Show love and affirmation. There is a constant need for orchids to feel loved and understood. 
    • Strike a balance. You'll need to know when to shelter an orchid child and when to let go to allow him to "bloom".
    • Have an appreciation for his unique qualities. 
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