Understanding Your Child's Personality
By Gopi K. Patel, MSE.d
How can I tell what kind of personality my child has?
This is a question parents often ask me about their child. It is very important for parents to understand a child’s personality in his or her toddler years. This makes it easier for parents to respond to the child’s interest and needs. How do you understand this?
Below are some Do's and Don'ts that may help you to unravel your child’s personality.
- Don’t do the work (action) for your child.
- Don’t speak for your child.
- Don’t follow your own thoughts and leads.
- Do give appropriate responses to your child. Imitate your child at play.
- Do get animated with the child.
- Do follow your child’s lead.
- Do wait for the child to speak for himself.
The more DO’s you follow the more responsive your child will become, and the more you will understand your child’s personality. It is likely that your toddler will also feel successful and will become more and more motivated to learn and communicate.
It is important to remember that each child’s ability to express himself varies. Some children easily attempt conversations, while some are not inclined to do so. Some toddlers respond easily to your attempts, while some do not respond at all. Sociable and demanding children often initiate and attempt any form of conversation. Passive and shy children, on the other hand, rarely initiate and attempt any type of conversation. Knowing your child’s personality will help you encourage your little ones when it comes to learning and communicating. Below are some characteristics that fit specific personality types and tips on how to engage with your child.
The SOCIABLE child: When your child is already sociable, she may still have a hard time expressing herself clearly. In order for successful communication to occur it is important to remember that it largely depends on how you respond to your child’s attempts to communicate. Listen to what your child is saying and validate any attempt to communicate (repeat what he is saying then continue to communicate with simple statements about the topic, or simply nod your head). The sociable child is eager to join you, so remember to include her in your routines and activities. Also remember to really listen to your sociable child-especially if you have asked her questions.
The DEMANDING/ASSERTIVE child: The demanding and assertive child can ofter be challenging and exhausting, because this child is very sure of what he wants. Parents at times feel like they are being pushed away from these children. With the assertive or demanding child it is very important to set up situations designed to produce a successful exchange, with activities that are highly reinforcing for the child. Watch your child’s body language, tone of voice, and facial expressions. Respond immediately to your child positively. Remember to set clear rules and limits with these children.
The PASSIVE child: When your child is passive she often doesn’t initiate any form of conversation and may seem to not know, or even understand what is going on. She rarely connects socially with others.
The SHY child: When your child is shy he does not usually communicate with the skills he has developed. He usually only speaks when he is spoken to.
Be sure to join your passive or shy child when he or she attempts to initiate a conversation. Create opportunities for your little one through interesting and enjoyable activities. Make sure you create a comfortable, predictable environment and wait for your child to attempt any form of communication at his or her own pace. Be sure that when you are speaking with your passive or shy child you are also using consistent body language—establish eye contact, face your child and speak with an audible tone of voice.
A better knowledge of your child’s personality will help you better understand how he or she learns and communicates. Once you identify your little one’s predominant personality type, you will be able to make most communication experiences positive learning ones. Remember to have realistic expectations and BE POSITIVE.