Saint or Tyrant? A Spiritual Growth Plan for Your Choleric Child
Hippocrates noted four patterns of behavior: choleric, sanguine, phlegmatic and melancholic. Author, mother and blogger Connie Rossini has created a dynamic new set of spiritual growth plans for her children. She shares her strategies in the first book of the series: A Spiritual Growth Plan for Your Choleric Child. Here we learn about the four temperaments and their differences. Cholerics react quickly and hang onto their impressions. Sanguines also react quickly, but their feelings fade. Phlegmatics react mildly with fading impressions. Melancholics react slowly, but hang onto their impressions.
Her wisdom and knowledge supports parents familiar with the temperaments and introduces the differences to parents beginning to learn about these patterns of behavior. Before giving the steps for spiritual change, she explains that, although each temperament needs a slightly different motivational technique, they share some basic similarities (in fact, she learned to take into account her phlegmatic-melancholic temperament in dealing with her choleric child).
Over the years, I have come to recognize several steps that I go through before I make a major change in my spiritual life. I used to believe that cholerics were unteachable, largely because I was going about things the wrong way. My successes with my son have made me see that he too follows the same steps.
As in academics, we don’t strive to push children so hard that they grow to hate it. We teach them the basics at their level.
Connie, who blogs at Contemplative Homeschool, begins with the choleric temperament, which happens to be that of her first child. She writes that the choleric is most likely to make a noticeable difference in the world. He or she may become famous or infamous – a saint or a tyrant. She encourages the parents of choleric children with:
God placed an awesome responsibility in your hands when he gave you this child. It is your job to help him overcome the tendencies that could make him a tyrant and strengthen the tendencies that could make him a saint. But don’t worry! God never gives a responsibility without giving the grace and aid to complete it. Even when you make mistakes, God will be there to make good come out of them.
Raising and homeschooling four sons makes Connie an experienced and wise mother in handling a choleric child’s relationships with his parents, siblings and those in the larger world. She knows each parent has a role in leading the choleric child to greater self-control, providing a home atmosphere reflecting an authentic Catholic culture, defusing power struggles and modeling good communications skills and spirituality. Fathers, especially, need to help their choleric sons control their anger, feel and show compassion, respect women, respect the vulnerable and submit to God’s will. Fathers are influential in guiding their sons and daughters toward worthwhile opportunities and projects.
I especially liked what Connie wrote about giving the child a vision, such as servant leadership, by studying the life of Jesus in Gospel stories. She suggests following a specific sequence when leading children in doing the corporal and spiritual works of mercy and not just go from the first to the last on the list. Along the way the child is given saints and heroes to imitate, which relate to the lesson plans. These are followed by lists of books and Scripture passages specifically for choleric children.
The chapter on prayer development was profound yet uncomplicated, even as she went through numerous forms of prayer methods. Next came examples of beautifully written guided meditations, which caused me to imagine holy moments between parents and children.
Homeschooling parents and classroom teachers will find the plethora of resources stunning. A Spiritual Growth Plan for Your Choleric Child is complete with specific suggestions for growth in prayer and virtue, teaching tips for homeschoolers, books lists, examples of saints and heroes, Bible verses to memorize, lesson plans and templates.
Those teaching situations weren’t available to me in my child-rearing years, but I wish I’d had this book for guidance and support. My choleric grandchildren will benefit from what I’ve learned in this book. I heartily recommend Connie’s new book. And, I look forward to reading about the next temperament in this series so my grandchildren will benefit from that as well.
Art: Cover of A Spiritual Growth Plan for Your Choleric Child and picture of Connie Rossini used with permission. Still Life with Bible, Vincent Van Gogh, 1885, PD-Art, Wikimedia Commons.