Home is where your child first learns how to get along with others. Each new sibling changes your child’s world, so it’s extremely useful to understand how different brain/body natures interact. Sit a Kapha and a Pitta in front of a plate of spicy nachos. The spicy food will enliven the Kapha, but it will badly imbalance the Pitta. Pittas, especially, may thrive on physical competition, but a Vata child can be emotionally and physically overwhelmed in competitive situations. This may be extremely hard for a Pitta brain/body nature parent to comprehend and sympathize with.
Problems between family members or among friends are very often a collision of the natural tendencies of brain/body natures. This explains why some kids (and adults) seem completely unable to see another’s point of view, and why it’s hard for you to understand one of your children when it’s so easy to relate to another. The knowledge of brain/body natures helps you comprehend and resolve such situations, giving you concrete steps to diminish conflict and smooth the sharp edges of differences. More importantly, understanding that different brain/body natures have different preferences and needs built into their physiology will help your children become more tolerant and learn to resolve their own differences: “Oh, he’s not being slow just to make me mad, that’s just his brain/body nature!” or “Of course my sister never waits for me, she can’t stay still and always has to run on ahead.” Best of all: “The reason I’m slower (or more freckled, or smaller) than my friends is because that’s how I’m made; it doesn’t make them any better than me.”
Playing with Siblings and Friends
Imagine walking into a prekindergarten classroom, where groups of children are playing together. Some are sitting at small tables and chairs, working on a puzzle. Others play with Lego.
Another group is on the jungle gym, and they catch your attention because they’re very loud. One child is at the top. Apparently he’s “king of the mountain,” and doesn’t let any of the other kids up there. As more of them try to reach the top, he gets louder. Soon some of them are wrestling on the jungle gym and falling to the padded mat below.
Yet another group is sitting on soft, comfy chairs in a quiet area, with shelves of brightly colored picture books. The teacher is reading to a few children. Others are looking at books even if they can’t read. Some kids are intently focused on the reading, while some sit and listen for a while and then run off to do something else.
Some kids are playing dress up. Two or three are picking out what they want to wear. A third is putting on a big bonnet and begins to narrate a fantasy in which everyone has a part. They’re all talking excitedly.
The last group is sitting in the sandbox, playing with trucks. No one is talking very much but they all have smiles on their faces. They stay in the sandbox for the whole time you’re there, happily building roads for their cars and trucks.
Children gather naturally into such separate groups because they share similar brain/body natures. They get together to engage in the same activities because that’s what they naturally want to do—be quiet, create a fantasy world, or compete. Let’s consider the three main brain/body natures in more detail.
The Vata children will probably be the ones playing dress up. They often opt for artistic activity (dance, theater, crafts, drawing, or painting) and admire what their friends create. Though they’re naturally very social and enjoy each other’s company, problems arise when Vatas go out of balance, which can happen easily with this very volatile brain/body nature. Their love of movement and lack of focus can escalate into hyperactivity, and they can suddenly become overtired, which increases their tendency toward anxiety or fear. None of this supports a fun, coherent playdate. If one Vata child begins to feel tired and out of balance, it’s important to monitor the situation closely since harmony is unlikely to last long.
In a family situation, older Vata brothers and sisters are often very good company for your Vata toddler. They are naturally inventive, and if they’re in good balance, they will work together create a fun playtime out of whatever they can find.
When Vata children reach the teenage or young adult years, they are likely to be drawn to the company of other Vata friends who share their creative expressions. They will be best friends or best partners until one child goes out of balance (perhaps one of them happens to have a good amount of Pitta), at which point both can become emotional and irrational. This is a signal for them to take a break to recover, rebalance, and get grounded again. It will help Vata adolescents or teens to thoroughly understand their brain/body nature so they know exactly what it is that puts them out of balance and what can help them regain equilibrium. Since Vatas forget so easily, you may have to find creative ways to explain the basic principles again and again until experience they are firmly planted in your child’s mind.
In the pre-K classroom, one group of Pitta kids is working on the puzzle; another is playing on the jungle gym. Pittas are drawn to puzzles because they love to use their brilliant intellects. The Pittas on the jungle gym are the feistier, spirited Pittas who naturally like to have their own way. When they are balanced, Pittas are happy to play together and will enjoy each other’s company, often working together to reach a common goal. But if they are out of balance, be prepared for a toddler match-off that can quickly result in hitting or crying. Both Pittas want to be in charge, and because each is sure he is right, their fiery Pitta tempers will flare.
In your family, if a Pitta toddler plays with an older Pitta brother or sister, you must make very sure that the older Pitta siblings are kind to the younger child. When older Pitta children are well balanced, they can be very responsible, but you have to make sure that these natural commanders don’t boss the little one too much, and that they’re not enforcing the rules too harshly.
You will notice that when Pittas participate in any situation with other Pittas, they frequently compete with each other. They revel in in all natures of sports and games—physical, board, or electronic. They love challenges and tests of their mental abilities, and they also enjoy passionate conversation. You might think they are arguing and becoming too emotional or angry, especially if you’re a Vata, but when you ask them how they’re doing, if they are in good balance, they’ll almost certainly look up and say, “Great!” The reality is that they’re enjoying the competition and mental sparring.
During the teen and young adult years, Pitta with Pitta is an excellent combination for siblings, friends, and teammates. They have each other’s backs and can work in harmony toward a common goal. When they are out of balance, however, the teamwork is lost, and they will argue and fight over even tiny issues as both struggle to be in charge.
In the pre-K classroom, the Kapha kids are the ones building roads in the sandbox. They’re not running around; they’re not talking nonstop. And they’re really enjoying the simple power of trucking sand from place to place and building with it.
Kaphas are innately easygoing. They are slow to anger and tend to be supportive of others. How easy life can be—two happy Kapha children smiling at each other. Even if one of them goes out of balance, it’s usually not hard to cheer him up as long as the other Kapha toddler remains content and relaxed.
In a family situation, if a Kapha toddler is playing with an older Kapha brother or sister, it’s an almost ideal combination, and you’ll probably see lots of hugging and sweetness. When Kapha children are out of balance, though, you need to watch for interactions that involve their being too possessive or too withdrawn.
As they become teenagers or young adults, two Kaphas make marvelous siblings or friends—happy, easygoing, and totally comfortable with each other. Out of balance, however, they really need your help to keep them from pulling away from each other. They don’t express their feelings easily, so they can become depressed and stagnant, unwilling or unable to take the chance or make the effort to bridge the gap that has grown between them.
excerpt from Dharma Parenting