Flexibilty: A Basic Skill For Life

Recalling the definition of flexibility: Being Flexible, as defined in a Dictionary, is to be “able to be easily modified to respond to altered circumstances or conditions” it is also defined for a person as “ready and able to change so as to adapt to different circumstances”.

Unfortunately, flexibility is NOT a skill that comes naturally to all children, some come to the world inflexible and easily frustrated. Yet, life itself is full of situations that demand flexibility, adaptability and also frustration tolerance.

Flexibility is a critical developmental skill that children develop as they grow up, however some children just don’t develop this skill early in life, when they should.
When a child is inflexible, anxious, afraid of changes, and goes with this anxiousness through the day- and we know every day is full of changes- this child invests lots of energy in each change, in each transition. Each one of them is seen by the child as an inconvenience that demands a lot of energy to deal with it. When many transitions have occurred during the day, and the child has used so much energy in them, and there are more changes requiring more use of energy, the child is burned out, he becomes even less flexible, less adaptable, less tolerant to frustration… becoming more irritable, afraid, and anxious with something that doesn’t seem to be that important or energy demanding

Let’s think of a girl, who didn’t learn such skills, that has been stressing out all day with each change, with each transition, using all her energy in school changing from one class to another, from one environment to another, etc., she gets home where she expects to have to deal with less stressing changes, and finds her brother is not feeling well. So mom has to take him to the doctor and she has to deal with setting up the table for dinner by herself… this is not an overwhelming demand, her mom and brother will be back for dinner and she only has to set up the table alone, it is not such a big deal! however she is already burned out, her energy was spent dealing with all school transitions and changes demands which are so energy consuming to her, suddenly she doesn’t feel she can deal with this new demand and suddenly bursts out!!! Obviously the mom is worried about her son who she’s taking to the doctor, does not understand her daughter’s behavior, she interprets this behavior as a lack of understanding, selfishness and nonsense, so she gets really mad at her!

As we can see, the consequence of this lack of such a basic skill like flexibility can be seen through behaviors like sudden outbursts, aggressiveness, explosions, crying and running away, etc. Obviously these behaviors generate a terrible negative effect in the child’s relationships with the people around him, like parents, siblings, teachers, peers.