Children are like snowflakes. No two are exactly alike. They come in all shapes and sizes, and all different personalities. Some are introverts, some are extroverts, and there is a vast spectrum of personalities in between. It is important for parents to remember that their children may not be like them and have their own unique personality is not only ok but very common and desirable.
Understanding who your child is as an individual will help you better parent them. Kids are uniquely themselves, and a one-size-fits-all method for parenting is generally not effective. The better you understand your child’s personality, the better you’ll understand what makes him or her tick. This allows us to know what motivates them, identify their strengths and weakness, and understand how they are likely to react to different situations.
While some temperaments are certainly more challenging than others, particularly when children are young, our children are each special and will have their own distinct personalities. It is important as parents that we avoid labeling them as one way or another and allow their personality to evolve and grow with them. We need to encourage this through healthy play that allows them to develop emotionally, physically, and mentally. Equally as important is remembering their personality is a result of both nature and nurture. They are born with certain dispositions, but through good parenting, guidance, and reinforcement, we can model and teach them other characteristics and qualities.
There are five primary indicators that can help understand who your child is, whether they are introverts, extroverts, overachievers, underachievers, happy-go-lucky, high-strung, and anything in between. In observing your child, pay close attention to how they manage these factors. They are your cues on how to parent, guide, and support them.
- An intensity of reaction – Does your child respond intensely and passionately to every situation around them, or are they more low-key and take everything in stride?
- Activity level – Is your little one moving full speed ahead at all times, or does she move about her activities at a leisurely pace and like to nap a lot?
- Tolerance for frustration – This is the difference between the quick to anger/”I give up” to the “oh well, let’s try again” temperament.
- Response to change – does the slightest change throw your child for a loop, or does he go with the flow and adjust easily to change?
- Reaction to new people – Is your child shy around new people and hesitant to interact, or does he engage instantly and make friends quickly?
There are no rights or wrongs to these answers. Your response to them may have been wide and varied, and that is the key to understanding your child’s unique personality. These character traits are what make your child who he or she is. When we understand why they are the way they are, we can put ourselves in their shoes and better help them adjust their behaviors, adapt their feelings, achieve their goals, and cope with frustration.
Being unique is a gift. All children should know they are special and valued just the way they are. Understanding their personalities and providing guidance and structure accordingly will help discover their own individuality. No matter their personality type, when they have been encouraged to be themselves and taught to love themselves, children will thrive.