There’s a long-standing joke among parents that our children didn’t come with instruction manuals. Among all the diaper changes, feedings, and late nights we are supposed to figure out their little personalities so we can raise them into thriving and functioning adults all on our own. Often we spend hours analyzing our child’s giggles to feeding cues to triggers. It’s no secret that trying to understand our child’s unique personality can be difficult, especially when our kids are infants or toddlers.
The Role Temperament Plays in a Child’s Personality
A child’s temperament heavily influences how our boys and girls react to new situations and everyday routines. This includes meeting new people, transitions, unexpected experiences, and more. Whether we like it or not, a child’s temperament is something they are born with and is composed of unique traits combined to make our kids stand out as individuals. Not surprisingly, these traits play an influential role in how our children react to their environment.
Every day we get the unique opportunity to watch our child’s temperament at work. We see this when our kids go to the pool for the first time, make new friends, or have to share toys with others. Each child reacts differently in these situations, and that is due to their temperament traits which are significant indicators of what their future personalities will be like. Each child has the following five temperament traits, but they are often expressed differently:
- Intensity of reactions.
- Activity levels.
- Frustration tolerances.
- Ability to adapt or respond to change.
- Reactions when meeting new people.
Take for instance when we introduce a child to a new playmate. Some kids immediately take to their new pal and happily interact with him or her. Unfortunately, some are unsure of the situation and will desperately cling to the back of our knees until they have observed the situation. These different reactions are completely normal, but we often begin to notice them when a child hits the 6 to 9-month age mark. However, a child’s temperament becomes more pronounced as they reach toddlerhood and experience more social and verbal interactions with their world.
Understanding Your Child’s Unique Personality
When trying to understand your child’s personality type, it’s important to keep in mind that there is a wide range of behaviors to analyze. Each behavior will have an extreme, but most of our children will fall somewhere in the middle of the spectrum. Experts have long analyzed these behaviors, temperaments, and personalities and most acknowledge there are 16 basic personality types.
Thankfully, we don’t need to spend hours analyzing a child’s every cry or demand to figure out their basic personalities. We can break down their unique personality based on the following four basic commonly recognized groups for children:
- The Determined Child. This personality often has adventurous, determined, and outspoken children filling its ranks. Children who fit into this group are typically eager to try new experiences, compete, or demonstrate strong-wills.
- The Sensitive Child. Children with this personality type are commonly considered thoughtful, self-controlled, and easily adaptable. Often they are attentive to others and worry about fairness.
- The Fun Loving Child. This personality type is full of kids who tend to be playful, interactive and engaged. Fun loving children are typically imaginative and carefree.
- The Serious Child. These children thrive on details, persistence, and maintaining order. Kids with this personality type are typically mature and deep thinkers.
Piecing Together the Personality Puzzle
We all know that no two children are exactly alike. Every child has a unique combination of temperament traits and personality tendencies that make them who they are. As parents, we need to challenge ourselves to watch and notice how our son or daughter responds in situations to gain a deeper understanding of the personality type our child might favor. This allows us to recognize stressful situations, learning styles and triggers to help us gain insight into our children’s behaviors.
If we know a child is shy, we can teach them ways to break out of their shell or seek opportunities to introduce them to new friends. If a child struggles with sitting still, we can instill coping strategies to learn strategies to control their impulses. Just remember, the temperament traits we find the most challenging today, might be the positive qualities that help our kids succeed when they are adults. By adjusting our parenting to a child’s unique personality, we can encourage a child to overcome their weaknesses and build on their strengths.
What personality type does your child exhibit?