Children are fascinating. If those who educate them and love them know anything, it’s that they seem to come into the world with their own personalities. Obviously, we often talk about the influence of the environment on them, but it’s clear that there’s also a part dictated by genetics that marks their attitude to life.
Some little ones aren’t too affected by change and look at the world with passion and interest. On the other hand, there are slightly more sensitive children who respond with fear, tears, and stress to almost any circumstances. Sounds, the proximity of a stranger, or even being in a place they don’t know makes them uneasy.
Science has been interested in this phenomenon for decades. Dr. Thomas Boyce, professor emeritus of pediatrics and psychiatry at the University of California, has dedicated his life to the study of childhood stress. After many analyses, interviews, and studies, he formulated his interesting theory about orchid children and dandelion children.
No matter what a child’s characteristics, they can thrive and be happy. However, we need to know their individual needs.
Orchid and dandelion children
As parents and educators, we must understand that each child is unique, exceptional, and defined by their particular needs. That said, often, in matters of upbringing and education, we tend to go on autopilot, assuming that what’s good for one child is good for all. This is a mistake. There are orchid children and dandelion children and we need to know how to deal with both types.
Dr. Thomas Boyce has been studying the stress response in humans for more than 40 years. He’s frequently observed that some people who’ve been through a terrible childhood still manage to have a full life, without any consequences. How can this be when others carry with them the weight of deep trauma that distorts everything in their lives?
In his book, The Orchid and the Dandelion: Why Sensitive People Struggle and How All Can Thrive (2020 ) he gives us the answers. First of all, he claims that children show two very different responses to their environments: either resilience or sensitivity. Moreover, their origins are genetic.
According to studies by Dr. Thomas Boyce, 80 percent of children are ‘dandelions’, resilient little ones who are good at managing stress. On the other hand, 20 percent of children show a high sensitivity to change and the stimuli that surround them.
The dandelion temperament: minds capable of thriving in any environment
Beyond the environment, upbringing, and social context in which the child develops, is their biology. Genetic factors determine whether they’re more or less resistant to stress. Later in life, we can all learn appropriate strategies to deal with adversity. It gives us an advantage similar to those who come into the world with this ability.
Dr. Thomas Boyce and Bruce Ellis conducted a study that we’re all defined by a type of biological reactivity to stress. In this case, the so-called dandelion children are the most resilient. These children demonstrate the following characteristics:
- They have a curious nature and like to interact with their environment without too many fears.
- They’re extroverted, not particularly anxious, and inclined to take risks.
- They handle stress well and don’t overreact to change.
- They’re extremely active and guided by the desire to learn and interact.
- They don’t see danger anywhere.
- They’re extremely lively and cheerful.
Dandelion children have higher genetic buffers which make them more immune to environmental stress.
Orchid children: sensitive little ones with great potential
It’s important to know that a fifth of people don’t have a choice about how to react to stress. Therefore, knowing how to differentiate between orchid and dandelion children is more relevant than we think. This would allow us to provide adequate strategies to the former so that they could reach their full potential and better adapt to any environment.
- From a biological point of view, small orchids show a greater vulnerability to stimuli. They’re affected by their diet, sounds, lights, any small changes, and, above all, the social environment that surrounds them.
- They magnify any situation, seeing it as threatening.
- They have a tendency to suffer from diseases such as asthma and disorders such as anxiety, depression, etc. to a greater degree.
- A negligent upbringing in which shouting is frequent, and a lack of affection and security is highly traumatic for these children. Obviously, this is also the case for almost everyone, but the orchid temperament, as defined by Dr. Boyce, is likely to develop more illnesses and mental disorders in the future.
- Although they’re more sensitive to negative aspects, they also experience any positive event really intensely. They flourish in happy, safe, and nurturing settings and ‘wither’, so to speak, in the face of even minimally stressful situations.
There are children who are like orchids. They’re reactive, delicate, and sensitive to their surroundings.
Sometimes, in the same family, there may be siblings with orchid temperament traits and dandelion temperament traits.
Better education implies knowing the needs of each child
There’s one frequent criticism in relation to the theory of orchid children and dandelion children. It’s the fact that, in reality, children with a combination of both temperaments would be more abundant. They’re the so-called tulip children, located at an intermediate point between fragility and resilience. However, be that as it may, there’s one indisputable fact that emerges from these approaches.
Indeed, there’s a genetic variable that we can’t control, and that defines the way in which children react to their environment. Some are more open and trusting while others are more vulnerable to stimuli. Knowing the particularities of each one of our children is extremely important so we can educate them accordingly, in a sensitive, intelligent, and attentive way.
If you think you have an orchid child, guide them to make them feel more sure of themselves in every circumstance. Don’t pressurize, overwhelm, or judge them. On the other hand, the dandelion child is more open to experience and impulsive. So if you have a dandelion child, try and make them see the need to be more thoughtful and prudent.
Beyond these characteristics, we must never forget that all children need to be loved and protected in order to flourish. Therefore, we should try and be the best possible gardeners in their upbringing.
The post Orchid Children and Dandelion Children appeared first on Exploring your mind.