I want to introduce a terrific new book, “A Spiritual Growth Plan For Your Choleric Child” by Connie Rossini, author and homeschooling mom of four boys.
I found Connie’s blog, “Contemplative Homeschool” a few years ago while looking into Carmelite spirituality and homeschooling. She wrote the book “Trusting God With St Therese,” which I read last winter. Connie’s writing is well crafted and I really enjoyed her book exploring St Therese’s spirituality, while relating it to her own life. When I heard about Connie’s new book dealing with choleric children, I was eager to read it.
Connie and I share something in common…we have four boys. I have my little pink caboose as well, but I know our households are very similar, both in noise volume and blessings. I have a few mixed choleric temperaments in my house, so this newest book was of interest to me. I have to say, as I read it, I kept thinking, “Oh, I wish I had this book 20 years ago!” But, no guilt, just happy to have it now. Take note, younger moms…get the book!
Does this sound like your child?
“He is a natural leader. He dreams big. He loves to be in charge. Give him a task that interests him, and he will eagerly pursue it on his own. He really likes to rally others to his cause and direct them towards a common goal. Although he is an extrovert, he does not just ‘hang out” with friends, chit-chatting. In social situations, he often has an agenda. It can be as simple as persuading others to play a board game that he really wants to play. He is decisive, outgoing, and self-confident. He is seldom afraid to stand up for the truth. He rarely gives in to peer pressure. He tends to speak and act without thinking.” –“A Spiritual Growth Plan For Your Choleric Child”
Temperaments are God-given, there’s no “right” or “wrong” one and each has strengths and challenges. Connie does a terrific job of describing what a choleric child looks like, and distinguishes between the four temperaments, with a brief description of mixed temperaments.
“What sets the choleric apart is his reaction to stimuli. Remember, the choleric responds immediately to stimuli that comes to him through this senses. He reacts strongly, and has a hard time putting his reactions aside.”
The book describes how to look at the sometimes intense, high maintenance choleric child as being on his own unique path to sainthood, while also focusing on the challenges he may experience along the way. Directly naming both the strengths (cholerics have MANY!) and the challenges, she puts forth a game plan to move the child towards self-awareness and spiritual growth.
Pride is choleric’s main struggle. Connie has terrific lesson plans that are very simple to execute which focus on necessary areas of growth unique to the choleric child. These include: humility, empathy, patience, thinking before speaking, respect and obedience, and learning what it means to be a “servant leader.” I love the concept of servant leader. Think St Paul, with his strong conversion story. Most cholerics are a lot like St Paul, once you get them pointed in the right and virtuous direction, they stay the course and bring a lot of people with them up the ladder to Heaven.
I love Connie’s voice in this book. It is always encouraging while looking, straight in the eye, at the challenges of having a choleric child. She doesn’t leave you to sort this all out on your own. She includes lots of examples of what conflict between parent and child might look like, taking into account both different and/or same temperaments. But even better, she also shows what resolution and “having a plan” looks like in both encouraging and disciplining the choleric child. These kids are masters at arguing their point. My husband and I have frequently used the term, “Irrepressible agenda!” while describing the determination shown by our choleric boys in trying to get their way. St Paul had a few irrepressible agendas as well, and once he got on the correct agenda, there was no stopping him!
Connie has put forth a helpful book list that is divided by both age and virtue that is highlighted in the book. She uses the male pronoun throughout, and no doubt, there are more choleric men than women, but when I saw the book Madeline, on her list for younger kids I instantly had a vision of what a young choleric girl looks like. That might, or might not, be a little bit like the writer of this blog. 🙂
Along with the lesson plans and book lists there are numerous Bible verses to have the choleric contemplate and memorize. They are so applicable! One of my favorite parts was the chapter with guided meditations. They are beautiful, simple but oh so effective! Connie had an art piece with the scene of Martha and Mary preparing for Jesus’ visit. The meditations that followed were thought-provoking while still being age appropriate for the children. The book is worth the meditations alone in my opinion.
In the end, having a choleric child can be challenging, especially if your temperament moves towards the melancholic or phlegmatic side, but God’s Grace is sufficient and the journey is made easier with Connie’s wise and helpful book. Be sure to check her blog, Contemplative Homeschool, where she writes really useful posts on developing and deepening our prayer lives. Also, she does plan on publishing more books on the rest of the four temperaments. I am looking forward to reading them! The covers get it right for each temperament, yes?