Published on April 18, 2019

Many children are able to thrive in any environment, while others may flourish only under the most favourable conditions. While some children are powerfully affected by trauma, others are able to effectively weather adverse experiences, sustaining few, if any, developmental or health consequences.

Kindy child smiling at friend


Dandelion children

About 80% of children are like dandelions who thrive in almost any environment. These children are mostly untroubled by the stresses and traumas they confront.


Orchid children

About 20% are like orchids and require very supportive environments to thrive. These children can succeed wonderfully well in the right circumstances.

We’ve all seen dandelions, the resilient flower that can grow in the cracks in concrete and thrive in almost any climate. Dandelion children can persevere through all kinds of challenges, including poverty, neglect and abuse. These children bounce back, keep growing, and aren’t thrown off course by most situations.

The opposite are orchid children who are especially sensitive to their environment. Picky eating and noise sensitivity can be signs of an orchid, as can having a hard time with change or transitions, either large or small.

Dandelion children, the resilient breed, generally manage through their circumstances and aren’t pulled too far down by bad environments or too far up by remedial programmes. Brain scans show orchid children are wired to respond dramatically to certain factors, so don’t make a fuss about the physical ones.  They need to grow up knowing their parents are confident in their abilities to survive. A supportive environment is not an overly protective one but one that tries to understand the challenges an orchid child faces and helps them learn to navigate the world.

Orchid children are more prone to illnesses, many of them respiratory. However, in the right environment orchids will experience less illness than dandelions, the children who have lower reactions to either positive or negative environments.

Reference: Principal’s Digest, Vol 25, Number 16. Acknowledgement: “Orchids and Dandelions” by Thomas Boyce in Psychology Today, January/February 2019; Kristy Ramirez.