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Is your Child an Orchid or a Dandelion?

The Orchid and The DandelionHave you ever asked yourself why some children’s lives are filled with satisfaction and happiness whilst others experience frustration and despair? Or why some children succeed and others struggle? Following twenty-five years of revolutionary research, Dr Tom Boyce, one of the world’s foremost doctors in paediatric health reveals in his new book that children are either orchids or they’re dandelions. Some children (like orchids) are more sensitive and susceptible to their surroundings, while others (like dandelions) are more likely to be hardy and resilient, able to thrive easily regardless of the conditions around them. Dr Boyce suggests that by better understanding more sensitive children and the adults they become, parents have the potential to make a positive lasting difference on their lives. If you are wondering whether your child might be an orchid, take a look at these statements to see which resonate: 

  1. Your child finds it difficult to handle simple critique and disapproval, but generally responds positively to gentle correction.
  2. Your child seems to think of unusual solutions to problems that their siblings or peers would probably not have devised.
  3. Your child can have a physical pain-like reaction to non-physical activity, such as social conflict resulting in stomach ache.
  4. Your child feels things very strongly and is quick to display emotion.
  5. Your child is affected by changes in the physical environment, e.g. lighting, sound, temperature.

If more than half of the above resonate then it is likely that your child is an orchid child. Here are three ways that you can help your child to flourish: 

  • Learn when to push, and not push your child. Every child needs encouragement and to be challenged in order to develop but for orchid children this is a fine and delicate line to tread. Find the balance between measured protection and emboldened exposure.
  • Create a space in which your child is encouraged to express thoughts and feelings. This could be ensuring that each child has equal opportunity to speak at the dinner table by passing around a ‘talking stick’ or similar. This physical object gives each family member a guarantee that their thoughts and opinions will be heard and empowers the orchid child to speak and express, as well as fostering an environment where orchids and dandelions alike are sensitive to these feelings.
  • Sensitive, susceptible children have more powerful, influential responses to both negative, stressful circumstances and to positive, caring and supportive conditions. Therefore, while all children need attention, orchid children will benefit more from parental time than their dandelion counterparts.

For further detail on these and more suggestions, read Dr Tom Boyce’s book, The Orchid and the Dandelion. It is a profound and optimistic look at how we can better understand more sensitive children and how we can make a positive, lasting difference on their lives.