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One Size Does Not Fit All

May 10, 2011

I’ve been trying to catch up on some of my psychology reading lately. An article on positive psychology in the APA Monitor, used a term, “person-activity fit,” that I hadn’t seen before, although the concept is familiar. The term (which is a little too jagony for me) reflects the finding that not all happiness-increasing strategies work for everyone. For example, some people may benefit from taking the time to “count their blessings,” while others may not. The concept of “person-activity fit” is particularly relevant for parenting.

It sounds so obvious, but I think it’s an often overlooked obviousness. We may read about a particular parenting strategy that sounds like a great idea, but then it doesn’t really seem to work with our own kids. Or maybe something that worked with your first child doesn’t have nearly the same effect with your second child. It really gets to the heart of one of my 3 keys of empowered parenting: knowing your child. Taking the time to figure out what makes your child tick is vital to the success of any parenting strategy.

So while we may know that “one size doesn’t fit all” and that “each child is unique,” sometimes we may forget and unintentionally end up banging our heads against a figurative wall trying to parent in a way that “should” work, but isn’t. What has been your experience with “person-activity fit” and parenting? What do you do to really try to understand your individual child?

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