Theme parks have been part of my life since I was a little kid. As I grew older, I enjoyed rollercoasters more! What scared me to death as a little kid was now a thrilling adventure. And if I did get scared, I’d tell myself, “It’s all an equation.” That was a secret code for, “The person who designed this got an A in the class, so you are safe.”
Having a melancholy temperament, I have ridden a few emotional rollercoasters in my life. Okay, more like millions ~ not just a few! I can go from the depths of depression to the heights of ecstasy. I can overthink a problem to the point of having people ask me to just quit. I’m working on that. I have a few close friends, but my definition of “friend” is different than that of a sanguine.
How can you help your melancholy child get off the emotional rollercoaster ride? Here are some tips that have helped me!
- Teach your child to fold their hands. Yes, even teens! Such a simple action helps their brains take a break from “Ahhhhh!”
- Memorize Scripture. Do a Bible study on fear, perfectionism, self-esteem, friends ~ whatever causes your melancholy to spiral out of control. We melancholies are complicated little souls and usually have several areas of our lives that can cause us to “lose it.” Choose some verses and encourage your child to memorize them so he can rely on them when the rollercoaster starts up. Learning to take their thoughts captive to the obedience of Christ (2 Corinthians 10:5) helps them get control of their thoughts and break the pattern of doom and imperfection.
- Praise your melancholy when they do well. They do not have to achieve “Best” on the Good/Better/Best scale every single time. Perfectionism is a huge strength and weakness in the melancholy. We are detail oriented and getting 98% of something done can be a stumbling block. We want 100%! Some jobs require only 75%, so let them know when they have reached the point of good enough.
- Help your melancholy create a schedule for when things need to be done. This goes along with the perfectionism strength/weakness. Melancholies tend to procrastinate because they are waiting for a big chunk of time to get the job done perfectly. When they run out of time, they do a quick-and-dirty job and get depressed because they didn’t do their best. It’s a vicious cycle!
- Remind your melancholy that there are three other temperament types. Usually we are blends of temperaments, but we have a primary temperament ~ even melancholies aren’t 100% melancholy! Most of my frustration with others has been because I did not consider their temperament, and I expected them to be like me. Bad idea! This is a classic case of people not being wrong, but being different. Okay, sometimes, they are wrong! 😉
- Pray for one or two good friends. Melancholies tend to be introverts, and making friends is difficult and time-consuming. Plus, melancholies tend to expect their friends to be just as committed to the friendship as they are ~ an “all in” attitude. Remind them that not everyone experiences friendship at the same level.
- Help your melancholy recognize when they are getting on the rollercoaster. Just as you would watch for your playpen escapee to put one foot on top of the side, show your melancholy when their emotions and attitude are close to the top of the side. Do it gently though ~ remember, we are sensitive little souls!
The Lord created the melancholy temperament and did not make a mistake. Some great men and women in Scripture were melancholies: Elijah (my hero!), Moses, John the Baptist, and Jesus’ mother, Mary. Take heart, dear melancholy parent, that your child’s strengths and weaknesses are exactly what our world needs!
Just one more thing ~ the person who designed the rollercoaster was most likely a melancholy! 😊
Glen and Jerrine Hicks have been married 32 years and live near Sedalia, CO. They have two adult daughters and one son-in-love. Jerrine’s idea of a perfect day would include a pot of PG Tips tea, some dark chocolate, a Jane Austen movie, and time reading Martyn Lloyd-Jones, Jerry Bridges, Emilie Barnes or L.M. Montgomery. She loves couchtime with her Glen. She is an introvert. 😉 The Hickses have been involved with Growing Families since 1996.