Undoubtedly, all children are different. Like most parents, have you had moments when you wished you understood your child(ren) better? Do their tendencies and behaviors seem to come out of nowhere, and do you get the feeling that if only you understood them better, you could perhaps care for them better?
If you take your car to a mechanic, for example, the first question you’re asked is: “What is the model and year of your car?” In the same way, we can ask, “What is the model of this child? Are they a Ford or a Chevy, or are they a high-maintenance Porsche?” Some kids get allergies and some don’t. Some tend to gain weight, while others struggle to keep weight on. Some kids are interested in sports and others can’t be bothered.
Understanding the subtleties of your child’s body type can help pave the way to a well-balanced childhood.
Keep reading and learn how to decode your child’s Ayurvedic body type.
Benefits of Knowing Your Child’s Type
By decoding the body type of your child, you can:
- Have a better sense of what type of behaviors to expect.
- Better understand how to help your child find the things he or she excels at, and help them to avoid the humiliation of failing at something their type is just not suited for.
- Understand their emotional strengths and weaknesses better. Their emotional behavior will suddenly make sense, allowing you to better understand them rather than constantly being set on changing them.
- Have a better sense of how to treat your child when they get sick. Each child may have to be treated differently, because each body type will express a cold or flu in their own unique way.
The Importance of Typing – A Case Study
A few years back, a ten-year-old girl named Sharon came to me in tears asking if I could write her a note to get permanently excused from PE class. The Presidents Council on Fitness required that Sharon run a mile in under ten minutes to pass the class, although studies show that 50% of all girls cannot. She wanted to pass in the worst way and gave her heart and soul and, sadly, finished in eleven minutes and thirty seconds. She failed.
Sharon had a Babe Ruth kapha body type. She had a round face and a solid frame and bone structure. Although speed was not Sharon’s strong suit, with her natural strength, endurance, and coordination, there were many sports she could excel at and enjoy. Unfortunately, the Presidents Council did not include options for her type.
I worked with her coach, who decided to implement this body typing system into his classes. A few months later, I saw Sharon and she told me with a great deal of pride that she was going to compete in the regional championships as a race walker – a sport more suited to her type.
The next time I visited Sharon’s school, she told me with enthusiasm that she had just joined the basketball team. She said, “The little vata and pitta body types dribble the ball around while I get rebounds.” She was so proud of her new-found athletic self-image as a “rebounder.”
It was hard for me to believe that this was the same little girl who, a year earlier, had begged me in tears for a note to permanently excuse her from P.E. Sharon came close to becoming a victim of a Louis Harris Poll that reported that 50% of all American kids experience their first major failure in life as a sports failure.
Winter, Summer, and Spring – Three Types for Three Seasons
Justin: Super Radar
The first type I call winter (cold and dry) or vata (which means “air”). This body type is epitomized in a 5th grade boy named Justin. Compared to the other kids, Justin is a little on the skinny side with cold hands and feet and dry skin. He is proud of being quick-minded and fast moving, even speedy. Because of Justin’s restless nature, the teacher constantly asks him to settle down and be quiet. He also has a hard time focusing on one project for any length of time, because his mind constantly leaps from one thing to another. His radar is sensing everything around him, making it hard to focus on his own work. He is super creative and artistic, and can get lost in his own world.
Of the three learning styles recognized by most educators, Justin learns best auditorily, rather than visually or kinesthetically. Generally, schools strongly favor Justin’s learning type, as almost all the information is delivered verbally. When he does focus, he usually does well in school. While he tends to be a little nervous or even anxious at times, his natural mental and physical quickness will ultimately prove to be his greatest asset.
Health Challenges: At home, he is the one with dry, flaky skin and possibly even eczema. If his skin is dry, it may be a sign that his intestines are also dry, making him susceptible to constipation. Thus, mom and dad must ask if he is going every day.
Justin may also not be the best sleeper. He may wake up easily and find himself in Mom and Dad’s bed way too often. Because of his quick-minded temperament, he will be a thinker, so it is important to take precautions to prevent him from thinking too much and becoming a worrier. The winter, or vata, type is a higher-maintenance body type and these children should be carefully guided through the stressful childhood years.
Jessica: Fired Up
Justin’s classmate Jessica is a fiery summer (hot), or pitta (meaning “fire”) type. She learns best visually and excels at schoolwork, particularly in math and other visually-oriented subjects. She wears a face full of adorable freckles and sports two long and slightly curly red pigtails.
Jessica is an extremely competitive girl, who is quick to take command and lead the class if necessary. Her fiery mind tends to drive her body hard, and she is something of a perfectionist. This trait often makes her the best at whatever she chooses to do, but on the negative side, it sometimes makes her overly demanding of herself. If she doesn’t win or come out on top, it can really get her down. In the summer months, Jessica’s face turns bright red when she gets overheated, which isn’t hard for her to do, since her body type carries a lot of heat by nature.
Health Challenges: Jessica is a bit more durable physically and mentally than her quick-minded classmate, Justin, but her parents need to be aware of her weaknesses in order for her to maintain perfect health. Because she runs hot, she has a tendency to get more skin rashes and acne than other types.
This heat may also affect her emotionally. She may tend towards anger, bad sportsmanship, and bullying if not guided at a young age. She is a natural leader but may not always be well-liked, as she can put other children down in an effort to make herself feel more important, thereby making more enemies than friends. We all know children like this and parents can surely intervene here and support more balanced behavior.
Hank: Everyone Loves a Teddy Bear
The third basic type couldn’t be more accurately embodied than in their classmate Hank. One of the bigger boys in the class, Hank is a spring (heavy and damp) or kapha (meaning, “to stick”) type. He is slow to learn by nature, but once he “gets” it, he’s got it for life. In this way, he is just the opposite of Justin, who takes in information quickly but can’t remember it for very long. Hank learns best kinesthetically.
Hank is a late bloomer, and when older, he will be able to command any field of activity.
Hank’s demeanor is calm and tranquil–people like him and feel comfortable around him. He moves slowly and methodically with no wasted effort. If Justin is a deer, and Jessica a tiger, then Hank is just a great big old teddy bear.
In our fast-paced world, Hank runs the risk of being labeled “slow” because he is a methodical thinker, but in fact, he has just as much or more natural talent and ability as the other two types.
Health Challenges: Because the spring-kapha type naturally possesses more of the water and earth elements, he makes more mucus than the other two types. He will tend to be prone to colds and coughs, and parents have to be careful not to feed him excessive amounts of mucus-producing foods, like mac-n-cheese and pizza for dinner, or cold milk and cereal for breakfast.
Hank may also be at risk of gaining weight. This can easily be avoided if his proclivities for eating and slower metabolism are detected and prevented early. Exercise will be important for Hank, but it better be fun or he will have no interest in it. Hank enjoys team sports and games that involve being with other people. His natural strength will make him popular when choosing up sides for football, and he will probably bat clean-up on the baseball team.
We all want to know our children better, and decoding his or her body type is a great place to start!
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