Parenting the Vedic Way
Ayurveda is India’s 5,000 year old “Science of Life,” and it is the art of living in harmony with nature. Ayurveda gives us tools for living that we can apply to every aspect of our lives, especially parenting. Your dosha is your Ayurveda mind and body type. There are three doshas in Ayurveda: Vata, Pitta and Kapha. We each have all three of the doshas in our physiology, just in different proportions, so your dosha is unique and personal; it is like your fingerprint. To determine your dosha, or ayurveda mind and body type, start by taking the dosha quiz. This will tell you which dosha is dominant for you. What’s your dosha, baby? Take the dosha quiz and find out!
Parenting is an application of love in our daily lives. Our children give us the opportunity to experience and express love, every day. As parents, we have a very unique relationship with each of our children. We interact with them on so many different levels at the same time. We can be a parent, teacher, friend, chauffeur, psychologist, advisor, disciplinarian, coach, referee, or whatever!
Mind-body type does have genetic components, but a family doesn’t necessarily have to be dominant in one dosha or another. A Kapha mother and father very well could have a Pitta child, for example. You need to look on both sides of the family to see where a dosha may be inherited. For example, a Pitta child could get her blue eyes from her Pitta grandmother, or her athletic ability from her Pitta uncle.
It is interesting to look back at your own childhood and discover the doshas of each of your brothers and sisters. Look at how you interacted with your siblings. What were these relationships like? Remember that your kids look to you for skills to handle each other, too. They learn from your example.
When you know your child’s dominant dosha, you are better able to handle the myriad of things that come up at any given moment. You are better able to parent from a place of love rather than expectation. You know, for example, that your Vata child may have some anxiety about a friend’s sleepover, or that our Kapha child may need two different alarm clocks to get up in the morning.
Kapha kids tend to be more solidly built. They’re stockier and more resistant to illness. They love to eat and have a sweet tooth. You need to watch their diets so that they don’t overeat. Kapha children are very caring. They’ll be the first ones to give you a hug. They may be a little shy at first, but once they warm up, they’re all smiles.
Kapha kids like to lounge around, so make sure there are plenty of activities for them to participate in so that they don’t turn into couch potatoes. If given a choice, the Kapha child would choose playing video games over a trampoline, but the trampoline would do so much more to keep him in balance. To get Kapha kids outdoors, have them help in the garden — they love tending to flowers and gardening.
Kaphas tend to have beautiful singing voices, so it’s a good idea to nurture that at a young age. Have your kids join the church choir, or take singing lessons.
In school, it seems like Kapha kids take longer to learn things, but the upside to this is that once they learn something, they don’t forget it. Kaphas learn best by association, so it’s a good idea to tell stories and give them experiences that help make the subject matter relevant to them. Be patient with them, work at their speed and don’t give up.
Kapha kids tend to be very loyal and loving toward their friends, but they are also sensitive, and their feelings are easily hurt.
Pitta kids are the ones who play baseball, basketball, soccer and hockey. They go from one sport to the next, and like whichever one they’re doing at the time the best! They want to be the best one on the team, and they want to bring home the trophy to prove it.
Sometimes, if you’re lucky, the Pitta competitive spirit will spill over into the classroom. The Pitta child will be motivated to work hard and get good grades. They’ll be keenly aware of their grade point average and do extra credit work if necessary to make honor roll. Pitta kids are great at memorizing and do well with flash cards, which is a visual tool for learning. They love to read.
Pittas can be show-offs, and they like to be in charge. As parents, you can teach them social skills to help them control their anger and get along with everyone.
The day-dreamy child drawing rainbows on a pad in the back of the room is the Vata child. These kids have great imaginations, and they’re gifted at making up stories. If you ask them a question, they’ll talk up a storm. They’re often perceived as “spacey” or “weird.”
Physically, Vata is slight. Whether tall or short, these kids look skinny; they have narrow hips and shoulders. Their appetite varies, but no matter how much they eat, they don’t seem to put on weight.
Vata kids learn things quickly, but then they forget them almost as quickly. You might think they’ve got their times tables down cold, only to have them fail a test the next day. Very often, kids with ADHD are Vata dominant. They are auditory learners, so sometimes it’s easier for them to listen to a book on tape rather than try to sit still and read for long periods of time. A multi-modal approach to learning in general is best for Vata kids — they like to hear it, see it, touch it and experience it. They’re great at all things creative, and likely will be in the school plays, draw cartoons for the school paper or be nominated for class clown.
Lots of hugs and a warm environment help keep Vata kids from getting out of balance and feeling nervous.
Growing and Glowing
It doesn’t matter how many children you have. As a parent, you soon learn that you can’t parent any two kids the same way. When we look at all the factors involved in a child’s individuality and the different ages and stages they all go through, there is no question that parenting is the most difficult job there is! Ayurveda gives us tools to help us relate to our children, and to help our children relate to each other.